Interview with Mr Christos Folias

Face2Face
Mr Christos Folias
Mr Christos Folias
Minister
Ministry of Development – Hellenic Republic (Greece)
Ministry of Development – Hellenic Republic (Greece)

Situated in the far south of the Balkan Peninsula, Greece combines the towering mountains of the mainland with over 1400 islands. The Country, origin place of popular Olympic games, records GDP per capita: $31,004 (2006) and GDP growth rate 3.4% (Q2 2008), amongst which GDP by Industry accounts for 20.6% (2006). Textile and clothing is amongst Greece’s main exports sector, and thus a vital industry for the country’s employment and economy. The Ministry of Development – Hellenic Republic, formed by amalgamation of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Technology, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Tourism, is the organ of Greek Government looking after sector’s overall growth and allied policies to it. Along with its various other missions boosting economic development of the Country, Ministry of Development is active in implementation of government policy for industry, planning and supervision of industrial activity in the public sector; promotion and encouragement of industrial activity in general in the private sector; and implementing policies in the area of quality in industrial production and supervision of entities active in the industrial sector; and management of the Operational Programme for Competitiveness. Born in Thessaloniki on 14th of Feb, 1951, Mr Christos Folias is the Minister of Development, Hellenic Republic. He studied Economics at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. For the year 2004 to 2007, Mr Folias was Deputy Minister of Economy and Finance. He was elected in March 2004 as Member of Parliament – Nea Dimokratia Party (constituency: Grevena) and re-elected in September 2007. He is also Member of the European Parliament (Nea Dimokratia Party) for June 1999 to March 2004. Besides, Mr Folias had also been Vice-President of European Confederation of Commerce (1999-2004); Co-President of the SME-Union of the European People’s Party (2003-2005); Vice-President of the Euro-Mediterranean Initiative on Commerce, Distribution and Services (Euromed TDS) (1998-2004); Member of the European Economic and Social Committee – Representative of Greek Commerce (1994-1999); President of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (1997-2003); Member of the Executive Committee of the Robert Schuman Foundation (1999-2004); Member of the Executive Committee of the Konstantinos Karamanlis Institute for Democracy (1997-2003); President of the Traders’ Association of Thessaloniki (1993-1997); Member of the Board of the Cha

A warm welcome to Face2 Face talk, Mr Folias! Some past reports describe textiles to be the largest sector in your country Greece. How true is this in present times in the view of country’s growing economy and overall growth?

It is apparent that during the last years, we are witnessing a gradual shift of geo-political attention towards South-Eastern Europe (S.E. Europe). Today, our region is considered to be the most attractive investment target within the continent having a total population of about 110 million, and the fastest growth rate (about 6%) among the other European regions. Greece, specifically, carries considerable advantages including a stable political and monetary investment environment, advanced infrastructure in textiles, telecommunication, transportation, as well as easy access to R& D resources. Textiles and clothing definitely enjoys importance in the economic growth of our country.

Now, with the fact that the Globalization is here to stay, how do you think would it affect Greek textiles and clothing, and how is Greece prepared to adapt the competitive edge?

We adopted an agreement with China on textile to the EU, so that until 2008, these shall not exceed an increase of 10-12.5% annually, for 10 product categories, mostly clothing. This agreement is surely preferable and constitutes a positive evolution because it obviates a slide in protectionism and offers a substantial satisfactory period of time for European and Greek producers to adjust to the new facts set by China in international competition.

As a consequence, Greek textile businesses in the next 2.5 years should take advantage of the relative protection of this sector in order to proceed to a substantial progress leap regarding their technological modernization, innovative planning renewal, quality upgrading and their promotion and expansion in exports. In this effort, they will have remarkable support in their investment incentive policies, measures for boosting small and medium-sized enterprises and, in specific, actions for sector strengthening, which have already been announced, such as: (a) a plan by the General Secretariat for Industry for the reinforcement of textiles, clothing, footwear and leatherwear sectors regarding quality, promotion and directing businesses towards new activities and (b) a study that records EU support programs for SMEs.

Published on: 29/09/2008

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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