Triggered by the burst of the real estate bubble in the US in 2007, the international community was faced with an unprecedented global financial crisis. Unexampled crisis, not only for the range of the countries it affected, but also for the intensity with which it penetrated the economies. It was only natural to adopt new political, social, economic and other beliefs. «Business as usual» did not operate in the new environment that was shaped. Entrepreneurs have been forcefully pushed to the viability line, in order to stay in the game.
Looking at Greece over the past decades, a mix of political and economic factors has reduced competitiveness, without focusing on extroversion and often leading to reduced quality of services and products. Escalating bureaucracy, inflexible institutional frameworks, and a hostile tax system were some of the main reasons that aggravated the crisis in Greece. The economic crisis was just the tip of the iceberg proving that the success stories so far were often built on chronic disease problems hiding under the table.
With sustainability now being a major factor for competitiveness and growth, entrepreneurs have escaped from the logic of ephemeral and quick profit, when once was their only concern, forced to focus on the long term, and use audit processes in order to asses in what way they will stay in the game. Naturally, in all of these activities, the influence of political decisions cannot be overlooked. Living in a world connected and intertwined, globalization leads to unification, therefore countries harmonized between them. So in Greece, political decisions made in the corridors of the EU have a direct impact on what sectors of the economy that will be viable in the following decades.
Greece’s major revenue and job creating sectors, which are tourism on the one hand, and food and beverage industry, new technologies, telecommunications and transportation on the other, play a decisive role for the reinforcement of the economy that the country so badly needs. The endurance and boost that they will potentially enjoy in the following years, with private investment or European funds, make them among the sectors that are going to have a significant rise – if they do not already have a firm place on the market. Thus, they have the potential to create new jobs and offer favorable working and professional development conditions.
In recent years and with the economy being in miserable condition, the financial sector has received a series of recapitalizations, in order not to be trampled by the boot of the crisis. The sector’s business relations with a number of industries and its linkages to shipping and industrial capital, mandated the injection of economical support. The financial sector’s impact on economic growth and on job generation has worked catalytically to keep it out of the crisis, albeit with artificial means at some points.
Food and drinks
The sector of food and drinks is one of the most important in the Greek industry. Its contribution has been characteristic in terms of added value, which exceeds the EU average. According to IOBE stats, food and drinks is the country’s largest employer in the manufacturing sector, with a 28% employment rate and one of the main pillars of the economy. Although there are many multinationals with modern infrastructure and qualified staffs, the group of small enterprises, with up to nine employees, dominate (95% in food and 87% in beverages). The potential and the ability of international competitiveness has been demonstrated by the significantly increasing export activities in the recent years, which contribute to enhancing the Greek economy.
As is well known, tourism is the heavy industry of Greece. However, its growth model has resulted in the standardization of Greece as a destination with a specific and somewhat limited range of services at a time when the opposite is actually true. The distortions created, including a negative media picture during the crisis years, have had a negative impact and it will take years to change this image. Nevertheless, the efforts that are being made, either through private initiatives or through national planning, are in the right direction as they emphasize the alternative forms of tourism that we Greece offer.
Efforts have been successful over the recent years to increase tourist arrivals without, however, taking into much account other parameters such as the quality of the tourist body, the cost per night, etc. Today it is necessary to find a balance between quality and quantity. The dispersion of the tourists and the exploitation of alternative forms of tourism can create multiply benefits. Exploiting the alternative tourism while exploiting the natural wealth will reduce the seasonality, which has always been the main drawback hampering further the growth of the tourism sector.
Energy cost is one of the main factors that weigh businesses down and entrepreneurs and business leaders have to prioritize. The clean energy sector is predicted to grow rapidly in Greece over the coming years, even if until now progress is slow. The key EU objectives are binding on all its member states, therefore on Greece too. The requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to develop renewable energy sources and to increase the use of biofuels has been on European agendas for years.
The lack of technological development is the main reason why there has been no boost in the industry, although it has potential to exploit a variety of alternative forms of energy. In recent years governments recognized the importance and started to reshape the energy market. The most recent energy form is geothermic, which has been in public consultation. A solid strategy for the sector is being planned slowly but surely. Thus, it seems to be a given industry that will be a pole of attraction for significant investments, which will contribute to its development.
New technologies and telecommunications
Information and communication technologies contribute decisively to competitiveness, productivity and quality of products and services. Greece nowadays ranks 70th among 139 countries in the Networked Readiness Index, published by the World Economic Forum. In particular, the telecommunications sector is not only resilient but also has a growth dynamic. The development of applications in the field of teleworking and tele-education, as well as the continuous investment in broadband, data digitization and automation, make it one of the sectors with a dynamic potential and with the ability to provide high-quality jobs. The parallel development of artificial intelligence can provide a range of capabilities to businesses that will help increase their efficiency.
The Shipping sector is a separate chapter on its own, in Greece. The Greek-owned fleet accounts almost 20% of the world and its value is on the world’s top. At the same time, the high level qualification and training of its Greek workforce contribute to the preservation of this position and to an ever-increasing course of competitiveness. The sector contributes over 7% of gross national product (GDP), provides employment to 200,000 people and accounts for more than 30% of the trade balance.
With a focus on building sustainable business models in the above identified growth sectors, Greece has the potential to plan, work and manage its way out of the crisis.
Short bio about Apostolis Zavitsanos
Apostolis is a Journalist at skywalker.gr
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Informatics & Mass Media from the Technological Educational Institute of Patras – Department of Informatics and Mass Media and a Master’s degree in Professional Systemics e-Business & Social Media Project from the University of Piraeus.