Ioannis Tsamichas at RETAILTODAY’s Special Edition “”Italy is Greece’s most important economic partner over time”
Italy is Greece’s most important economic partner over time
Cav. Ioannis Tsamichas has been President of the Hellenic-Italian Chamber of Athens since 2010 and has been an elected member of the Board of Directors since 1988.
- What is the current state of bilateral relations between Greece and Italy? How has it beenaffected by the energy crisis of recent years and the rise in inflation?
Italy, Greece’s most important economic partner over time, is the top market for Greek exports in 2023. Despite the consequences of the energy crisis and the high inflation that businesses have to deal with, bilateral economic relations between Greece and Italy remain particularly close, as they have developed their own dynamics.
The deterioration of conditions in the global economy could not fail to affect Greek exports, which have nevertheless shown remarkable resilience. According to ELSTAT data for the period January – November 2023, the value of Greek exports amounted to €47,195.7 million, down by 7.5% compared to the corresponding period of 2022 (€51,036.0 million), but achieving the second best performance in their history. In comparison, the value of Greek exports to Italy decreased by only 1.5%.
Italy accounts for 12% of Greek exports, making it consistently and in the first ten months of 2023 the most important destination for our exports, with Bulgaria (7%) in 2nd place and Germany (6.8%) in 3rd place. Italy ranks high, in the 1st quartet and in the list of imports (2022), confirming the particularly close economic relations between the two countries.
- What are the main Italian products imported by our country?
Products related to the energy sector constitute an important part of our country’s imports from Italy, such as petroleum products, nuclear reactors and their parts, etc. They are followed by plastics, vehicles – cars, bicycles and tractors mainly, pharmaceutical products and of course clothing and footwear. The main products we import from Italy also include iron, cast iron and steel, as well as paper and its products. While foodstuffs, especially wines, for which Italy is known, are lower down the list of imports.
- What are the products that Greece exports to Italy? Where do you think there is room for further growth?
Agri-food products represent about ¼ of the value of Greek exports to Italy. This is followed by petroleum products, fats and oils, aluminium, nuclear reactors/boilers/machines, electrical appliances and spare parts, plastics, paper, copper and clothing.
However, where Italian interest is very much in evidence is in the energy sector. Italian groups, such as Edison, Enel Green Power and Italgas, have been active in the Greek market for more than 10 years and it seems that their plans include new investments in green energy, renewable energy sources, e.g. onshore and especially offshore wind farms, photovoltaic parks and natural gas.
Edison together with DEPA are working on the EastMed pipeline, with Edison stressing that the project is part of its sustainable development strategy in the context of the European Union’s energy policy as well. Moreover, the Italian government has also expressed its support for the construction of EastMed, while the Italian groups Renco SpA and Sicilsaldo-Nuova Ghizzoni have also expressed interest in participating in the construction of the pipeline. Cooperation between Greece and Italy is expected to intensify in the near future, putting the Eastern Mediterranean at the heart of the energy map.
- Italian cuisine and related food products are quite popular in our country. Why do you think this is due to?
Italian cuisine is the most popular worldwide. It could not be a favorite of the Greeks. It is affordable and easy, simple but not simplistic. Unlike French cuisine, it has not been confined to gourmet restaurants, but has entered our homes, offering tasty, filling, economical and healthy meals. Besides, Italian cuisine, together with Greek cuisine, are the main links of the Mediterranean diet. However, we must acknowledge that the Italians are way ahead in marketing their cuisine.
- What are the Chamber’s priorities? What does your plan for further development of bilateral trade relations include?
The Hellenic-Italian Chamber of Athens, which today has more than 1000 members, has been working for 6 decades to develop and promote economic and commercial cooperation between Greece and Italy, contributing to the creation of investment. Greek and Italian companies will find in the Chamber an ally in their efforts to operate in the Greek or Italian market. Its contribution has been officially recognized by the Italian State under Law 518/1970.
Recently, the Greek-Italian Chamber of Athens signed a Protocol of Cooperation with the Industrialists’ Association of Naples, which provides that the two institutions will join forces and work together to further strengthen economic relations. For the implementation of the Protocol of Cooperation, the Hellenic-Italian Chamber of Athens and the Industrialists’ Association of Naples agreed to create an Antenna office for the member companies and consultants of the Hellenic-Italian Chamber of Athens. This office is expected to become a reference point in Southern Italy and to act as an information hub for investment opportunities in the Greek market.
Along with the “We import and promote Made in Italy”, the successful program “We export more Greece through 85 Bilateral Italian Chambers in 65 countries” continues. Since 2011, when the Hellenic-Italian Chamber of Athens took over the implementation of this initiative, promoting products with the “Made in Greece” stamp, the extroversion of Greek entrepreneurship has been further enhanced.
Moreover, as a member of the Assocamerestero (Association of Italian Chambers of Commerce), the Hellenic-Italian Chamber of Athens is present in 65 countries around the world, enhancing the extroversion of its members.
Read the interview here: https://direction.gr/RETAILTODAYSPECIALEDITION/4/