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21/06/2006 ‘Greece in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook: Steps in the right direction’

Address by the Special Secretary for Competitiveness, Mr. Spyros Efstathopoulos, at the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) presentation of the annual IMD Report on Competitiveness, in the ‘Yiannos Kranidiotis’ Hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, titled ‘Greece in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook: Steps in the right direction’.

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like first of all to thank the President of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research, Michalis Kortesis, for inviting me to come and speak at the meeting being held today to present the results of the IMD’s World Competitiveness Yearbook for 2006.

I also want to convey my warmest congratulations both to Mr Kortesis and to the Foundation’s research director, Professor Theodosios Palaskas, as well as to all the members of the Board and to the Foundation’s employees for their very significant contribution to the research and study of economic figures in Greece.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This year’s IMD report on competitiveness crowns the efforts made by the new government over the last two years to improve the economic climate and reverse the negative trends that have prevailed in Greece since 2001 in terms of competitiveness.

It is the first IMD report since 2001 to show a reversal of the trends in this country. Having fallen for five years, Greece has improved its position in the overall competitiveness ranking by eight places since 2005.

For the political leadership of the Ministry of Development, and for the government as a whole, this development is especially important because this year’s report is the first based wholly on data from the period since the new government came to power (2005 and 2006). Previous reports from the respected international organisation covered the years up to 2004.

At this point, I would like to underline that the IMD report on competitiveness, which is drawn up under the guidance of renowned professor Stephane Garelli, is one of the two most important reports on international competitiveness. The other is that of the World Economic Forum, which is published in the autumn of each year.

The IMD’s World Competitiveness Yearbook, which first appeared in 1989, analyses and ranks the capacity of states – and some regions – to create and maintain an environment that supports the competitiveness of businesses and the prosperity of citizens. The 2006 report compares 53 countries and 8 regions.

As Mr Stoforos and Mr Georgiou have already said, the overall competitiveness index is made up of four basic factors:

  • economic performance,
  • government efficiency,
  • business efficiency, and
  • infrastructure.

Each of these four factors consists of five subfactors. This means that the overall competitiveness index is based on 20 subfactors, made up this year of 312 quantitative and qualitative criteria.

The qualitative criteria come from a survey of entrepreneurs and business executives in each country, and account for 1/3 of the criteria as a whole. The quantitative/statistical criteria make up 2/3 of the data used to arrive at the final competitiveness index. The qualitative criteria for this year are drawn from answers to more than 4000 questionnaires all over the world, while the statistical data come from international, national and regional bodies and private institutes.

For Greece, as you know, the body that works with the IMD is the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece. At this point, I would like to thank the President of the Federation, Mr Milonas, its executive director, Mr Stavrou, and the director of the Documentation and Studies Division, Mr Georgiou, for the excellent working relationship that we have enjoyed.

At the same time, I want to emphasise and point out the strong interest that the development minister, Dimitris Sioufas, has in the international competitiveness indexes drawn up by all organisations.

Proof of this interest can be seen in two letters sent by him to all those responsible, both nationally and internationally, in which he provides information about the initiatives of the new government to increase the competitiveness of the Greek economy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The messages for Greece from this year’s IMD report are encouraging and upbeat. The effort that we have all made together – government, bodies, institutes and ordinary citizens – to improve the competitiveness of the Greek economy and achieve real convergence with the advanced countries of the European Union has already begun to bear fruit.

Greece’s rise in the IMD ranking this year is directly linked to the country’s improvement in almost all of the report’s individual indicators. While last year, Greece was 50th out of 60 countries and regions, this year we are 42nd out of 61. Since last year, we have overtaken countries such as Portugal, Turkey, South Africa and Jordan.

This year, Greece has leaped up the index, back to the position it last occupied in 2002. It is also important to stress that 61 countries and regions were compared for the 2006 survey, against just 50 in 2002. This year, Greece achieved the third-best improvement after China, which rose 12 places, and India, which improved by 10.

In addition, in the ranking of European, Middle Eastern and African countries, our country has improved its position by 6 places, to 25th out of 37 countries. In terms of the 21 out of the 25 EU countries included in the survey, Greece has risen one place from 18th to 17th. That puts us ahead of countries such as Portugal, Italy, Slovenia and Poland.

I shall not refer in detail to Greece’s ranking in the 20 subfactors that make up the overall competitiveness index, but I do want to underline that Greece displays the greatest improvement – of 6 places – in government efficiency, where we are now 46th, compared to 52nd last year.

It is also significant that the IMD includes Greece among those countries in which the contribution made by the business sector and the government to increasing competitiveness is balanced. We can see, however surprisingly, that in that particular index Greece is ahead of countries such as Germany, Spain, the UK, Italy, France, and the USA.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our aim is the constantly increasing competitiveness of Greek businesses and the Greek economy. Our aim is a Greece of quality; an outward-looking and innovative Greece. A Greece with increased social cohesion and prosperity for all citizens. That is why we have designated 2005-2010 Competitiveness Years, and why for the past two years we have been implementing an action plan for the development of the entire country.

A basic tool of the Ministry of Development in this effort is the Operational Programme for Competitiveness, which I have the honour of running. As you know, the Programme funds up to 55% of business investment plans in the sectors of energy, manufacturing, research and technology, tourism, trade, and services. I remind you that take-up under the programme has risen from 14.5% in March 2004 to 45.2%. It has therefore tripled in 27 months. Since March 2004, more than €1 billion has been allocated through the programme, benefiting more than 80,000 businesses, employees and self-employed people.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is in the same spirit that we are continuing to move forward with the cuts and reforms that Greece needs, and which the vast majority of people in this country agree with. Focussing on the citizen and emphasising the regions, we are planning the 2007-2013 Programming Period and laying the foundations for the Greece of 2020.

Our response to market globalisation and new conditions of competition is

  • increased competitiveness
  • outward-looking entrepreneurship
  • and innovation

The competitiveness of a country, just like that of a business (as Stephane Garelli, who is responsible for the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, says) depends on two basic factors:

  • First: The management of a wide range of abilities, with the objective of optimising the use of available resources and knowledge, and
  • Second: the efficient management of reform, with the objective of adapting as well and as quickly as possible to the constantly changing international landscape of competitiveness.

In this endeavour, your contribution is extremely important. We are closely monitoring international indexes of competitiveness and surveys by national and international organisations, including annual competitiveness reports.

This year’s competitiveness report was presented last Wednesday at the Zappion Hall, at the meeting of the National Council for Competitiveness and Development .

The Council attaches particular importance to competitiveness indexes, and they are carefully monitored and analysed by both the full Council and the Committee of Experts. Indexes and figures are not, of course, an end in themselves.

After all, not everything that matters can be measured, and not everything that can be measured matters.

But they do reflect, to a significant degree, whether or not the actions we are pursuing and the measures we are taking have been successful.

To monitor them in the best and most objective way, we want all the bodies that can contribute to the improved competitiveness of our economy to cooperate and exchange know-how with us.

We recognise the benefits arising from synergy, and we welcome them. And besides, increasing the competitiveness of our economy is a matter for everyone.

Let’s not forget that indexes do not just record, but create competitiveness, since large investment firms consult them before deciding which part of the world to move their capital to.

Thank you very much

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The O.P. "Competitiveness" is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the Greek Government and private funds.
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