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17 December, 1999
Industrialists are optimistic about the future of the economy and their sector a year before Greece is to join the 11-member euro zone, the ICAP business research group said in an annual survey released yesterday.
"Greek industry is in the best position to deal with the challenges of the future, and the prospects for companies in the sector are the best in 35 years," ICAP Managing Director Dimitris Maniatakis told a news conference.
Held in the November 8-30 period, the survey of industry's assessment of 1999 and expectations for 2000 used a representative sample of 250 companies.
It showed that industrialists believed inflation and interest rates would drop and that the procedures required to obtain a loan would be simplified.
The industrialists had already discounted that Greece would join the euro zone, becoming its 12th member, the survey said.
Industrialists forecast higher sales, and therefore profits, in manufacturing, and also planned to carry out more investments.
The companies surveyed were relatively optimistic about employment in industry in 2000 in the wake of a year of stagnation in 1998.
Optimism over job creation was expressed primarily in profitable medium-sized companies, most of which were active in paper, publishing and printing, metal products, electrical and electronic materials, and appliances.
In terms of economic policy, the majority said they favored a more liberal approach involving less taxation and more rapid privatization.
The European Union's decision at the Helsinki summit this month to award Turkey candidate status had ushered in a new era, according to ICAP president A. Kyriakopoulos, who is also general director of Alpha Credit Bank, the country's largest private commercial bank.
"An enormous new market has opened its gates to Greek enterprises. The opportunities being presented are of incalculable value and taking advantage of them will lead the Greek economy and Greek companies to new levels of growth and prosperity," Mr. Kyriakopoulos said.
Source: Athens News Agency