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Annual Report of Greek Trade 2021 – The reflections and proposals of the Scientific Institutes

The clouds of war in Ukraine, the economic turmoil in the EU, the energy crisis and inflationary pressures are once again shadowing the horizon of Greek trade and the Greek economy as a whole. Intense reflection prevailed in the commentary on the results of the Annual Report of Greek Trade 2021 made by the Directors of the scientific institutes, during the event held by ESEE yesterday, Tuesday 5 April 2022.

The President of ESEE Mr. George Karanikas In his statement, he pointed out that the 2021 Annual Report is a resounding warning to the business class about the survival and prospects of its business. “Taxation, declining consumer spending, lack of liquidity, rising commodity costs and unfair competition are the biggest problems for businesses,” he said. He also noted that the reduction of household disposable income, mainly due to inflated electricity bills, but also the increase in operating costs of SMEs will require the support of the State for the duration of the energy crisis and the effects on inflation. due to the war in Ukraine.

The General Manager of INSETE Mr. Elias Kikilias He stressed that the invasion of Ukraine is expected to lower the growth bar and exacerbate inflation, which is already putting a significant burden on households. He referred to the positive outlook for European resources but stressed the importance of an effective mood. With regard to tourism, he noted that the initial forecast for tourism revenues of around 15 billion euros is a rather difficult target due to the impact of inflation on the income of the average European citizen. He expressed fears that the price crisis could slow down investment initiatives in tourism, negatively affecting sectors such as trade. According to Mr. Kikilias’ estimates, the tourist expenditure in shopping amounts to 3.5 billion euros, which correspond to 20% of the total tourist expenditure. The director of INSETE estimated that the amount of tourism expenditure for shopping can be significantly increased, noting the need to improve infrastructure, which will multiply cross-sectoral interconnections.

The General Manager of IOBE Mr. Nikos Vettas noted that within the pandemic there was a transformation of consumer habits as everyone learned to shop online. He noted that what will matter now is not the product itself but the consumer experience, which underscores the employment factor. Mr. Vettas highlighted the proximity of the findings of the Annual Report of Greek Trade and the economic climate research of IOBE, but also that it is now necessary to adapt to a new market with completely different characteristics. He noted that it is important to study the extent to which business support measures have succeeded but also how retail trade will work in the midst of inflation, which we had forgotten for several years. He pointed out the dangers of the war in Ukraine and stressed the importance of shifting the production model, which will remove barriers to business growth.

The Scientific Director of FHW GSEVEE Mr. Dionysis Gravaris stressed that crises are not only multi-level but also cumulative, characterizing poor political management. Society and the economy, he continued, are entering the new reality injured, uncertainty is growing, globalization is being challenged, and obstacles are being found in the supply chain. He noted that nowadays the economy is accepting the effects of a peculiar stagnant inflation, which will halt the pace of recovery. In this climate, trade, like other sectors, is called upon to be transformed, overcoming chronic problems and the strongly oligopolistic environment of the domestic market. However, he pointed out that SMEs are internalizing this stagnant inflation, endangering their viability as on the one hand their operating costs are inflated and on the other hand consumer spending is reduced. In this light, even raising the minimum wage is a difficult equation, but the process of defining it must return to free collective bargaining.

The Scientific Director of KANEP / GSEE Mr. Nikos Fotopoulos, stressed the link between trade and education and training. He argued that research such as the Annual Report contributes to strengthening institutional dialogue and particularly focused on the Report’s findings on industry pressures, high levels of uncertainty and the strong impact of the pandemic on the employment of young and less educated people. He noted that the crisis highlighted the sensitive points of the industries but also the importance of new skills, know-how and in general the new culture that is now emerging in this new work environment. The platform’s economy and society, he continued, pose a major challenge to securing working conditions and expressed the hope that the resources of the NSRF and of European programs in general will be channeled to the market more efficiently. He also pointed out the low level of lifelong learning in Greece, where even those who already have qualifications participate. Finally, he suggested, the digital transformation should take place after the necessary qualifications have been identified and training should be included in the collective labor agreements.

The General Director of the SVE Institute Mr. Christos Georgiou expressed concern about the amount of expenses available for consumption if the costs of accommodation, food and travel are deducted. He stressed the importance of processing both for the labor market, through the creation of permanent jobs, and for consumption, through wages. He stressed the decline of globalization but also the opportunity to be seized by industrial policy to shift to domestic production. Already in the last year, the increase in costs and time of transportation of products from China, has led many companies in search of domestic producers. Therefore, he said, positive prospects for synergies are emerging and in this context, European resources must be used properly. The digital transformation, he continued, at this stage will accelerate and possibly the “green” will lag behind a bit, with the emphasis shifting to energy savings. Finally, he mentioned the importance of not losing experience in the transfer of companies in the industry, as they will give new emphasis to entrepreneurship as the new generation, familiar with technology, will give a new impetus to marketing.

The Scientific Director of INEMY-ESEE Mrs. Valia Aranitou, which coordinated the event, explained the concept of dualism of commercial enterprises, which is found in the Annual Report. He stressed that it is due to the different performances in the turnover between smaller and larger commercial enterprises based on the increases of IPR, the inelastic demand of certain products between the trade categories, the low access to financing from small units. He also noted that the level of digital maturity, the difficulties of finding the right staff, but also the fact that the pandemic hit the main competitive advantage of the smaller units, that of personal and quality service, play an important role. Regarding the digital transformation of commercial enterprises, he noted that a key obstacle was the culture of innovation / entrepreneurial mentality in the smaller units. Now, the main obstacle is the lack of funding for relevant actions, as the creation and maintenance of a multi-channel or holistic (omnichannel) sales network requires financial resources as well as appropriately qualified staff and even in adverse times.

The presentation of the main points of the Annual Report of Greek Trade 2021 was made by Mr. Charalambos Arachovas, Coordinator of the Department of Economic Analysis, INEMY-ESEE and Mr. Manolis Manioudis, Economic Analyst, Scientific Associate, INEMY.

Source: Capital

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