Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to be here today with Prime Minister Tsipras, and with all of you. I’m delighted to be part of the discussion with industry leaders about what we can do to help your companies be more successful in Greece.
Two weeks ago, with Prime Minister Tspiras, I led a 55-participant U.S. trade mission to the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair honoring the United States. Everyone from the United States was extremely pleased with the trade fair, and particularly delighted with our hosts. I had productive discussions with the Prime Minister and others during my visit.
I left Greece feeling positive about our bilateral relationship and the possibility of further strengthening our commercial ties. The United States has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Greece as it has come through tough times.
Greece has made great progress — and has seen beneficial results — from its efforts to deregulate many sectors of its economy. Some of the best universities in the world, such as Imperial College London, are writing case studies about the successes of deregulation in Greece.
Greece’s ambitious plans of becoming an energy hub are also coming to fruition. The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, and the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector, are both making good progress. As of this week, the 546-mile long pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Italy is 76 percent complete. It will provide a major new and secure source of natural gas for southern Europe, driving economic growth and investment. And in June, Exxon Mobil obtained a license for exploration in the Ionian Sea.
Bilateral trade and investment between the United States and Greece is also increasing significantly. It might surprise some people in the room, but Greece is the fastest-growing source of FDI stock in the United States. Greece’s total FDI in 2017 was more than $1 billion. From 2012 to 2107, the compound annual growth rate of FDI into the United States from Greece was 70.7 percent.
American companies are also actively investing in Greece. U.S. FDI stock into Greece topped $1 billion last year. U.S. investment has played an integral role in the Hellenic Republic’s economy, and it will continue to do so.
Greece may have only 11 million citizens, but you sure do play an oversized role in global affairs. I look forward to our discussion about your experiences in the Greek market, and your thoughts on ways we can help expand your business there.