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Welcome speech of the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Openness, I. Smyrlis, during the first event of the Arab-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce in the New Year–traditional Vasilopita cutting (10 February 2021)
The Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Openness of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and President of Enterprise Greece, Mr Ioannis Smyrlis, delivered a welcome speech during the first digital event of the Arab-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce in the New Year, which included the cutting of the traditional Vasilopita.
In his address, Mr. Smyrlis talked about the new model of economic diplomacy, under the aegis of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, calling it an integrated “portal” of openness, despite the pandemic difficulties we are currently dealing with.
More specifically, he highlighted the fact that, following the example of the most developed countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is being transformed with the ultimate goal of the effective promotion of our country’s economic interests. As he mentioned, the reform that is currently being implemented – in the context of the broader reform policy of the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis – is already noticeable on many levels. By Linking Greece’s foreign relations on a multilateral and international level and bringing Enterprise Greece and the Export Credit Insurance Organization (ECIO) under the supervision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is now possible to chart and implement a multi-level foreign policy.
He then referred to the government’s stated will to further support Greek products and services in international markets and promote the country as an important investment destination through close cooperation between the Government, Organizations and Businesses, as well as through targeted Economic Diplomacy, which is a key priority for the government.
Furthermore, Mr. Smyrlis mentioned the intention to implement the recommendations of Germany’s GIZ, which completed a programme of technical assistance for supporting Greek exports, as well as the endeavour to record our country’s export-base data by region and, more specifically, identify and support enterprises that have the potential to develop exports, although they have not done so to this day. The completion of the national openness strategy, a cohesive national plan that will support the efforts of Greek businesses abroad, is another pillar of action, as per his statement. This strategy sets out all priority actions by country, enabling coordination and development of synergies between various organizations. This is a pilot year, he stressed, and this year’s experience will be used to shape the annual strategic openness plan, which will be announced in a timely manner. This plan covers not only the promotion of exports, but also the attraction of investments, our country’s bilateral and multilateral economic relations, and our priorities in the sectors of energy, transport, infrastructure and inter-connectivity.
The Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Openness praised the role of Enterprise Greece, a new structure that is governed by a new, more business-oriented mindset that is prepared to respond to both the post-Covid needs of internationally oriented enterprises and the country’s efforts to attract investments. He underscored that Enterprise Greece has already created a broad operational plan to meet the needs of Greek enterprises and that the first results are very positive. At the same time, Enterprise Greece has started preparing the Greek Stall for Expo 2020 Dubai (October 2021-March 2022), in close cooperation with our Diplomatic Missions in the United Arab Emirates. Mr. Smyrlis said he will be meeting tomorrow with the Minister of State of the United Arab Emirates – who is also the president of the organizing committee of Expo 2020 Dubai – with whom he will discuss the actions to be implemented during the six months of the Expo, following the signing of Greece’s participation contract.
In closing, Mr. Smyrlis highlighted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is setting strategic goals with the co-competent Ministries, with its 60 Economic and Commercial Affairs Offices in 51 countries around the world functioning as a network of antennae. He also underlined that the Economic and Commercial Affairs Offices, in collaboration with Enterprise Greece, are the key operational arm, offering services of high added value to internationally oriented Greek enterprises.