US Ambassador Pyatt, AmChamGR President Bakatselos praise Greece’s progress at 4th ExportUSA Forum

US Ambassador Pyatt, AmChamGR President Bakatselos praise Greece's progress at 4th ExportUSA Forum

US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt on Monday said he believes it is “pretty clear that Prime Minister Mitsotakis’s government has exceeded expectations in its first 120 days, and has done a tremendous amount of work to advance the reform agenda,” while speaking at the 4th annual ExportUSA Forum, in a central Athens hotel.

“As Secretary of State Pompeo reinforced in his visit to Athens last month, the United States believes that Greece is making great strides towards creating a more welcoming business climate for investors and entrepreneurs, and how that is helping to grow our trade relationship,” Pyatt noted.

Greece’s trade with the United States rose up to 1.42 billion dollars through the first half of 2019, up 22.6 pct from the same period last year, Pyatt observed, while Greece’s exports to the U.S. increased 56.5 pct.

“And of course, in 2017, the Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA program ranked Greece as the fastest growing source of direct foreign investment in the United States,” he added.

“We consider Greece to be an important economic partner, not just on its own terms, but also as a gateway to the Western Balkans and Southeastern Europe,” Pyatt assured.

The US ambassador then referred to the agri-food sector being a main topic at this year’s forum and noted that “one-third of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s 25 million euro donation to the Rutgers University-led ‘New Agriculture for a New Generation’ program will go toward the development of a Food Innovation and Cultivation Center designed to help Greek agri-food businesses with new product development, market analysis, and exports. Initial architectural and engineering design studies for the center will be completed next summer,” he asserted.

Meanwhile, President of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce Nikolaos Bakatselos said that current Greek-US relations are at their strongest apex, while commercial relations between the two countries in the framework of the Strategic Dialogue are constantly gaining momentum, also speaking at the ExportUSA Forum on Monday.

Bakatselos said that the visits of the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and of Commerce Wilbur Ross to Greece demonstrate the importance that both the US and Greece attach to this relationship. “A relationship,” he added, “with mutual investment interests, highlighting Greece’s geostrategic position.”

Bakatselos added how Greek exports to the US increased by 7.17 pct in the first half of 2019, compared to the same period last year, reaching a value of 673.06 million euros and he estimated that figures can improve even more with broader business plans, more targeting and deeper specialization.

Direct US investments in Greece surpassed 1.2 billion euros in 2018, up 16 pct from 2017, said Bakatselos.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Kostas Skrekas represented the Greek government at the forum.