Representing over 100.000 members, the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the oldest and largest business organization in Greece. Constantine Michalos, who steers ACCI’s helm since 2006, also serves as the President of the Central Union of Chambers of Greece and Vice-President of Eurochambres. Highlighting the importance of pro-business reforms, entrepreneurship and investments, the President of ACCI discusses the Chamber’s mission, goals and activities and elaborates on the current situation and future plans within the Greek entrepreneurship scene.
European Times: ACCI is recognized as an important contributor to developing beneficial solutions for the national economy, as well as a key promotor of entrepreneurship and investments in Greece. What are the Chamber’s mission and goals?
Constantine Michalos: ACCI is dedicated to assisting the Government in the fields of commerce, industry, services, and general development policy, mainly by providing consultation for issues that are related with financial growth and progress. This way, we aim to contribute to the establishment of a positive atmosphere for cooperation, mutual confidence and information provision for the enterprise world. Furthermore, our mission is to support and promote entrepreneurship and to assist our members. We inform our members about financial and business developments, we provide free information and consulting services, we organize events, meetings and conferences related to financial and individual sector-based issues, as well as educational programs and seminars that promote human resources’ skills, etc. The Chamber also organizes and participates in trade missions aiming to expand international economic relations, cooperates with European and international chambers of commerce and other organizations. Networking is crucial for economic success and we are fostering excellent relations with all the major Chambers of Commerce within the EU and beyond.
When it comes to promoting entrepreneurship, ACCI also serves as a business incubator. In the past three years, we have secured financing for a considerable number of businesses, and we will continue to expand this project in the future.
European Times: What measures are necessary for securing a stable and sustainable economic growth?
Constantine Michalos: Greece has managed to surpass the crisis and is “back on track” when it comes to progress and economic growth. Nevertheless, a prosperous economy requires primarily the Government’s commitment and implementation of policies that encourage investments and enhance entrepreneurship. Furthermore, due to the high levels of taxation, Greece is one of the lowest ranking OECD countries as far as competitiveness is concerned. On the other hand, employers in Greece pay the highest contributions in the EU. Both taxation and contributions will need to be significantly lowered in order to foster competitiveness. These and other bureaucratic problems require significant structural reforms, which the Government is undertaking at the moment.
European Times: What is your personal message?
Constantine Michalos: As the southern gateway to the EU, Greece has a very favourable strategic location, which is further enhanced by its vicinity to Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa. Leaving the crisis behind, Greece today is a modern and reformed country which, with the proper structural reforms, will continue to attract billions of euro in FDI in the next decade. Investment opportunities are abundant, and a variety of sectors await investors, including energy, transport, agriculture, logistics, and tourism. I invite potential investors to follow the example of the numerous successful investment stories and explore the ample investment opportunities.