Facing the challenges of 2017 with manufacturing at the forefront

According to the IMF’s forecast, 2017 will be a year of economic growth globally, while in Greece uncertainty, political instability and, ultimately, gloom and doom will dominate.

As indicated in the IMF’s data, the global GDP growth rate for 2017 is expected to be 3.4%, compared to 3.1% in 2016. This prediction is based on the growth rate in emerging economies. The corresponding data related to the Eurozone anticipates a rise of about 1.7% in GDP for 2017, while inflation will be at 1.3%. Greece, meanwhile, will remain in recession for the 8th year in a row. Lamentably, this situation is not going to change as long as the reforms sought by the Greek business sector are not introduced. In a climate of political and economic fluidity, we are forced to remain mere spectators of these developments.

I shall reiterate once again that without a strong manufacturing base, which will produce internationally merchantable products, Greece will not see future growth. An examination of global economic activity shows us that the world’s strongest economies possess a powerful industrial sector. Indeed, those countries which have a healthy manufacturing base have been less affected by the crisis than those based more on commerce and services. It has been clearly shown that over time, manufacturing ‘supports’ a great many ‘satellite’ business activities and professions.

It is for this reason that we insist that it is possible for manufacturing to increase from today’s feeble 8% of GDP to 12% over the next five years, provided that real reforms are undertaken in the field of production in general. And let us not forget the fact that, in times of economic crisis, the industrial sector contributes around €55 billion to the country’s GDP, provides 1.2 million jobs and supplies the State coffers with in excess of €11 billion annually.

The spearhead for this growth should be private investment in manufacturing. Technical know-how exists, products with the potential to conquer international markets exist and highlyqualified and skilled manpower capable of adapting to the conditions of competition are available to us…

What then is lacking? The suitable entrepreneurial environment for activity.

Thus, rather than concern ourselves with how the likely election results in the various European countries may or may not favour us, I propose that we sit round the table together, political and social stakeholders alike, and arrive at some sober agreement as to the structure of the new productive model for the country. Within this framework, Greece must plan and realise its own industrial policy, in order, on the one hand, to encourage the necessary adjustments to be adopted by domestic enterprises so that they become more outward-looking and competitive, while on the other, to improve the economic environment in which industry operates.

It is all too obvious that there is no time to lose, certainly not for frivolous discussions on the ‘nature’ of growth. The responsibility of each one of us is ‘national understanding for growth’. Since growth is what we are all after and is where we stand on common ground, it is imperative that we come to an understanding, and fast.

It is only with national understanding, and by setting aside small-time party political jostling, that we can create a new productive model for the country.

If, at the eleventh hour, we do not rise to this challenge, the country will truly continue to be bottom of the league table and remain under strict supervision…

Is that what we want?