We had the opportunity to interview the General Secretary of the Hellenic-Italian Chamber of Commerce in Athens (H.I.C.C.A), Panos Vamvakaris, with the aim of offering our readers a general overview of the H.I.C.C.A activities. They are focused on the promotion and internationalization of Italian companies. Those who are interested in investing in Greece should take into consideration these activities, which are a great support for enlarging the own business.
How does the Chamber of Commerce support the internationalization of the Italian companies?
The Italian companies that are members of the Chamber of Commerce and collaborate with the H.I.C.C.A. international office have the opportunity of promoting their products in the Greek market thanks to the research of importers, wholesalers, distributors and local agents. In addition, the H.I.C.C.A. helps these companies to take part into important fairs, which take place in Greece, bringing them great benefits. The Chamber of Commerce also plans business meetings in its headquarters - hotels located in the center of Athens - with the aim of introducing Italian companies to local Economic Operators and supporting them in expanding their businesses in Greece. The H.I.C.C.A. provides them with secretary and translating services as well. These events can take place during the business multisectoral meetings - which strictly select the importers. These one-to-one meetings take place according to the availability of the company interested in promoting its products. Furthermore, the H.I.C.C.A. staff is at its partners’ disposal; it means they carry-on free tailor-made researches regarding Greek businesses and their products and services – providing them with all of the information they need.
What about the H.I.C.C.A. activities dedicated to the Italian citizen, though?
The Chamber of Commerce offers translation service from Italian into Greek and vice-versa regarding economic and legal texts at a very preferential rate. Moreover, we offer to the Italians great information about the Greek market as well as support concerning the required touristic promotion.
How are Italian companies promoted in Greece?
Our staff provides their members with advanced web marketing tools in order to promote both the company and its products. Italian businesses can gain more visibility advertising their activities and services on the H.I.C.C.A. website (www.italia.gr) and through our monthly newsletter.
What are the opportunities for the Italians interested in setting up a new business in Greece?
Today the general situation in Greece is still complex even though it has been improving recently. What is really positive in Greece is tourism – both in 2016 and 2017 the number of visitors doubled. If we take into consideration all of the above, we can state that today investing in Greece is not that easy but we have to keep in mind that the general situation is increasing too.
Are there any incentives for the foreign investors?
Legislative Decree 2.687/1953 and the art. 112 of the Constitution guarantee benefits to foreign “productive investments”, such as the right of ownership, preferential fiscal treatments and work permits for technical and management teams. The law 4146/2013 -“setting up a commercial area for both strategical and private investments” - aims at promoting the investments. The law improves the institutional framework of private investments; creates liquidity and enhances both investment procedures and their transparency.
In 2014 the Greek government set up the Entreprise Greece which sees the cooperation of the agency for the promotion of the investment, “Invest in Greece” and the Hellenic Council of the Foreign Trade. Entreprise Greece is a great support for investors. Good incentives are addressed to companies which invest in the “green economy”; especially, in new ways of energy production (except photovoltaic), in the disposal of urban and hospital waste, in the use of water as main resource and production activities with a low environmental impact. Incentives are addressed also to IT companies and businesses related to communication, biotechnology, production of organic food, tourism, culture and all of the companies whose products can be exported abroad. Last bust not least, businesses which invest in research and development get incentives as well.