While economies across the world have all been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, new foreign investments in Greece are expected to help the country bounce back, promising much-needed growth in 2021.
The Greek economy is estimated to shrink by 8-10 percent by year’s end, as the country is currently on its second lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The pandemic came at a time when Greece had just climbed out of a 10-year economic slump and three bailout programs.
Yet Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis appears optimistic that 2021 will be a year of growth for Greece. Two vaccines for Covid-19 with effectiveness between 90-94.5 % are in production — a fact that restores confidence in the business world, as it appears the world may be soon finding its feet again after the ravages of the pandemic.
Additionally, a number of major foreign investments are in the works, slowed down by the pandemic, but ready to be put in place when the time is right.
Currently PM Mitsotakis is attending the 5th EU-Arab World Summit in the United Arab Emirates, discussing investments in Greece. His talks with the Abu-Dhabi Capital Group in regard to fish farming and state-of-the-art food technologies are now ongoing at press time.
However there are four large investments by international giants already underway, including the construction of the ambitious metropolitan complex at the site of the former Athens international airport at Hellinikon.
The bold project, undertaken by Lamda Development will turn the 620-hectare (1,500-acre) plot into a complex of public parks, luxury residences, hotels, sporting facilities, exclusive shops, a yachting marina and a casino.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be 8 billion euros ($8.9 billion), with an estimated creation of 40,000 permanent job positions after completion, and 75,000 jobs being created just as part of its construction.
The Hellinikon complex will include the first skyscrapers in Greece, after the Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment corporation received the license to build a casino in a consortium along with GEK Terna SA.
The second investment to materialize in 2021 is from the tech behemoth Microsoft. The investment officially announced by Microsoft President Brad Smith in October is expected to amount to approximately 1 billion euros ($1.17 billion).
The IT giant will build new data centers which will establish a Microsoft Cloud region in the country, adding Greece to the world’s largest cloud infrastructure footprint and delivering access to low-latency, business-grade cloud services.
Microsoft also announced its plan to provide digital technology skills to approximately 100,000 Greek citizens by 2025. Reportedly, the ancient town of Lavrio in southeast Attica will host the Microsoft data center.
German automotive manufacturer Volkswagen has also given a vote of confidence to the Greek economy by planning to turn the island of Astypalaia into a model area for electric vehicles.
Specifically, the company’s six-year plan includes the replacement of all carbon-run vehicles on Astypalaia with electric and hybrid cars and trucks, the building of electric charging stations across the island, and the construction of electric trains which will run on clean energy.
All the new vehicles will be produced locally.
Another announcement of a major investment in Greece by a large corporation is the creation of a data center in Thessaloniki by pharmaceuticals conglomerate Pfizer. The Thessaloniki hub is part of a planned multinational network of digital research centers to develop technology that can be incorporated into Pfizer’s development pipeline of medicines and vaccines.
Dr. Albert Bourla, the Greek CEO of Pfizer, was born and raised in Thessaloniki and also received his medical degree in the city. Dr. Bourla has expressed great confidence in the minds of Greek scientists and believes that they will contribute greatly to the company’s research.
So far, 200 individuals have been hired for the Thessaloniki hub.
Just last week, Pfizer announced the successful trials of a Covid-19 vaccine with 90 percent effectiveness, many doses of which will begin to be distributed immediately upon FDA approval.
In other extremely positive news for the long-term, there is recent interest on the part of major British financial institutions in establishing a presence in Greece after Brexit. Prime Minister Mitsotakis has already stated that Greece will give incentives to British financial institutions to bring their operations into the country after the dust settles after the break from the EU.
At the moment, the Greek government is planning to lift the second coronavirus lockdown on Tuesday, December 1st. It remains to be seen whether the Greek economy will run smoothly during the holiday period and will continue so in the first months of 2021, so that all the investments will begin to bring the long-awaited, and much-desired, results.