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Remarks by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Athens, Greece

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Introduced by AmCham Greece President Nikos Bakatselos

Thank you, Nikos for the kind introduction, and the opportunity to meet with you and fellow AmCham members. I am pleased to be back in Greece almost a year to the day from my attending last year’s Thessaloniki International Fair. 

A lot has happened since then, including the formation of a new government, and highly successful bond offerings on very favorable terms. It is gratifying to see the Greek economy finally recovering from the deep financial crisis. The new Prime Minister’s ambitious reform agenda, and his outreach to Europe last week, should help build momentum toward a sustainable recovery.

I am just returning from meeting with both Prime Minister Mitsotakis and Minister of Development and Investment Adonis Georgiadis. And I’m also scheduled to meet with Minister of Digital Governance Kyriakas Pierrakakis later this afternoon. Our discussions today were open and extremely constructive. 

The Prime Minister and I are both graduates from Harvard, so we have a lot in common. And, I’m glad to note, that much of his reform agenda is similar to what we have done so successfully in the United States under President Trump. We look forward to hearing more about it in the coming days and weeks, and I pledged strong support for him.

We didn’t shy away from discussing some of the challenges and opportunities in the U.S.-Greece commercial relationship. High taxes, regulatory burdens, limited credit availability repeatedly delayed privatizations. If these barriers can be addressed, U.S. companies will invest here, hire local workers, and contribute positively to the Greek economy, spurring even stronger growth. We will continue to work through the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue and the U.S.-Greece Commercial Dialogue to assist in the transformation of the Greek economy.

We told the Prime Minister that sustained increases in trade and investment will benefit both the United States and Greece. Thankfully, we are experiencing an increase in business between our two nations.

Last year, total trade in goods between the U.S. and Greece increased by 20 percent, or $470 million, to $2.8 billion. Our goods exports to Greece increased to $1.1 billion, while our imports from Greece increased to $1.7 billion. U.S. FDI stock in Greece last year totaled $1.4 billion, topping the $1.2 billion in 2017.

We also promoted the capabilities of U.S. companies especially in industry, energy, environment, agriculture, fisheries and maritime, among others. Our Commerce team is tracking these projects and we are ready to assist companies interested in participating.

So, with that, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the new government’s plans and what our priorities should be going forward. Thank you, again, for being such gracious hosts.
 

Leadership