Greece's Troubled Economy Looks to Shipping for Lifeline
Greece's caretaker Prime Minister Panayiotis Pikrammenos, opening Athens' 'Poseidon Expo 2012' voices confidence the shipping industry can help the country out of its economic crisis
With the participation of 1,870 exhibitors from 87 countries and regions, which sets a new record in the four decade history of the biennial exhibition, and 17,000 visitors expected to go through the gates of Metropolitan Expo Centre, next to the Athens "Eleftherios Venizelos"International Airport, until June 8, the 23rd Posidonia projects a positive image of Greece and a message of optimism in times of major challenges, organizers stressed.
"More than ever before Greece needs new investments and job positions. The shipping industry can make a significant contribution in this direction," Greek caretaker Prime Minister Panayiotis Pikrammenos said, inaugurating the event, noting that despite the negative economic climate in 2011 the Greek maritime industry posted satisfactory results.
From 2000 to 2011 the Greek shipping industry, operating the world's largest commercial fleet with 3,325 vessels (15 percent of the globaltonnage), contributed approximately 154 billion euros to the nation's economy, according to the Greek Shipowners Union.
The volume represents half of the Greek sovereign debt burden as it stood in late 2009 that has alarmed the international financial system. In 2011 the sector's profits, vital to the country's economy, declined by some 8.6 percent.
"Still, according to a recent survey of the Greek Foundation of Economic and Industrial Research, it was estimated that Greece could gain about 26 billion euros if Greek shipowners were convinced with the right incentives to refocus their activities in Greece," Greek Development, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Yannis Stournaras stressed addressing the fair.
According to the Greek Statistics Authority, a total of 76 percent of the 2,066 Greek-flagged ships operating today, were built in Chinese and South Korean shipyards.