Greek FinMin Tsakalotos courts Asian investors

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, who is currently in the process of courting Asian investors, has encouraged them to tap into the country’s economic rebound and grab the “first-mover advantage” now enjoyed by China.

Early investors will get in just as prices start to rise, Tsakalotos said in a recent interview with the Nikkei Asian Review in Athens, adding that he saw a “lot of investment opportunities from real estate to the gas market to agricultural products, chemicals and so on.”

The minister plans to meet with investors in Singapore and Hong Kong this month as part of his trip to the Indonesian island of Bali for the annual gatherings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The Greek economy shrank by one-fourth due to the debt crisis and the austerity measures that followed. “We had one of the biggest recessions any country has had in peacetime,” Tsakalotos said.

But Greece put an end to eight years of financial assistance from the European Union in August, and the minister credits measures such as injecting more capital into banks for the country’s recovery. He urged Asian investors to consider a “fair picture” of Greece today.

With the crisis in the rear-view mirror, Greece expects its economy to expand 2.1 pct this year and 2.5 pct in 2019. Greek property prices are nearly half what they were before the crisis. Investors are taking advantage, with new hotels popping up across Athens in response to a surge in tourism.