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05 September, 1998
The US embassy is to hold international conferences in Greece next year on infrastructure for tourism and for the 2004 Olympics to be hosted by Athens, commercial attache Patrick Santillo said yesterday.
Mr. Santillo was addressing a news conference in Thessaloniki before the inauguration of the city's annual international trade fair later the same day.
Major US companies will take part in the conference on Olympics infrastructure, which the embassy is to organize along with the Hellenic-American Chamber, based in Athens. The conference on tourism is to be held in April next year, he said.
The conferences form part of a US strategy in Greece next year aimed at tightening business links between the two countries.
Devised by US Ambassador in Athens, Nicholas Burns, the strategy also involves encouraging US firms to come to Greece and make contact with domestic firms, in order to aid forge business links and boost trade.
Mr. Santillo said the sectors of interest to US firms, which wish to compete in Europe for procurements deals, were energy, telecommunications, environmental protection, medical equipment and infrastructure projects.
Replying to a question, he said that US companies were also interested in taking part in Greece's Defence procurements program, both as bidders and as receivers of products and know-how through offset benefits.
The US wanted to contribute to upgrading stability in the region through participation in the arms program, Mr. Santillo said.
Also attending the news conference was US Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Mary Fran Kirchner, Mr. Burns and US Consul in Thessaloniki Paul Stephenson.
American investments in Greece amount to approximately US $1.5 billion, which is equal to one fourth of the total figure of US $5.5 billion of foreign investments in the country, according to US embassy in Athens Commerce Department estimations.
The same source named some of the most recent investments of US firms in Greece, which include: - a cooperation between Walt Disney Company Greece with 50 Greek firms producing famous Disney figures for both the Greek and foreign markets - US firm ENRON/IWECO's cooperation with a number of Greek companies for the construction of a wind power generation park on Crete - a deal between US's SONOCO with Greece's EVIEN in northern Greece.
During a press conference given yesterday by the US embassy's Commerce Department, officials presented data relating to trade between the two countries.
US exports to Greece recorded an increase of 16 per cent in 1997, reaching US $978 million, a development mainly due to the sale of equipment to Greece's civil aviation industry.
During the same period, Greek exports to the US amounted to US $487 million. Greek products exported to the US include minerals, steel, aluminum, foodstuffs and tobacco.
Forecasts for this year and for 1999 predict that trade between the two countries will continue to rise, with US exports to Greece to reach US $1, 050 million in both years and Greek exports to the US to amount to US $550 million and US $600 million respectively.
Source: Athens News Agency