Greece flag Greece: Investing in Greece

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Greece

FDI in Figures

Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, FDI flows to Greece declined to USD 3.6 billion in 2020 from a record level of USD 5 billion in 2019, according to UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2021. In 2020, the stock of FDI reached USD 52 billion. FDI in Greece comes mainly from the European Union member states (Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy). In fact, FDI from the Eurozone accounts for 75-80% of total inflows per year. Switzerland, Hong Kong, Canada and the United States are among major non-EU investors. Investments are mainly oriented towards manufacturing, information and communication, wholesale and retail trade, transport and storage, and financial activities. In 2020, the energy sector attracted considerable investment from Spain, France and China as Greece liberalised its electricity market and reformed its renewable licencing procedure. Data published by the Bank of Greece show that FDI inflows in the first half of 2021 were the highest since before the start of the global financial crisis of 2008. In fact, inflows stood at EUR 2.3 billion, up from EUR 1.7 billion one year earlier.

The country’s strong points include its strategic location, excellent maritime infrastructures (being the world leader in maritime transport), the fact that the Greece is one of the main beneficiaries of the Next Generation EU recovery fund as it is set to receive EUR 33 billion (almost one-fifth of GDP) over the next 7 years, and a relatively low labour cost; whereas among the weak points there are the weak performance of the industrial and banking sector (saddled with the largest ratio of non-performing loans in the EU), insufficient investment in R&D, bureaucratic inefficiencies, expensive regulations and uncertainty about the future regulatory regime. Greece is ranked 79th out of 190 countries in the latest Doing Business Report published by the World Bank.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 201920202021
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 5,0193,2135,732
FDI Stock (million USD) 45,15341,57345,803
Number of Greenfield Investments* 344349
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 1,8423,2232,767

Source: UNCTAD, Latest available data

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

 
Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Greece OECD United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 9.0 6.5 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 4.0 5.3 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 5.0 7.3 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business, Latest available data

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

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What to consider if you invest in Greece

Strong Points

Greece’s main assets are:

  • Member of the European Union and European Monetary Union
  • Economic Hub of South-Eastern Europe: geographical location, which makes it the strategic link with the markets of the Balkans, the Black Sea, Eastern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean regions
  • One of the strongest shipping sectors in the world.
  • Strong tourism sector
  • In-depth economic and work market reforms after the economic crisis
  • Greatly improved financial management
  • Prospects for tourism in the long-term remain strong. As the industry continues to grow, it will create opportunities for investments related to upgrading or updating related infrastructure.
Weak Points

Greece suffers from many handicaps : 

  • The economic crisis has greatly diminished economic prospects. Consumer confidence has decreased, liquidity issues have made it difficult to access credit and consumption has dramatically scaled back.
  • High public debt
  • Rigid business environment
  • Weak industrial and banking sectors
  • Insufficient investment in research and development
  • Bureaucratic inefficiencies, expensive regulations and uncertainty about the future regulatory regime
  • The country also faces a high level of corruption that affects many aspects of the economic and commercial life (according to Transparency International).
  • Persistence of social tensions
  • Many industries tend to be oligopolistic, creating difficulties for those wishing to enter the sector.
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI

The Legislative Decree number 2687/53 as well as Article 112 of the Constitution, give approved foreign 'productive investments' property rights, preferential tax treatment and work permits for foreign managerial and technical staff.
Law 4146/2013, entitled the 'Creation of a Business-Friendly Environment for Strategic and Private Investments' is the primary investment incentive law currently in force. It aims to improve the institutional framework for private investments, raise liquidity, accelerate investment procedures and increase transparency. The Greek government also established Enterprise Greece, merging the previous Invest in Greece investment promotion agency with the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board to create a sole point of contact for investors. The business start-up procedures can be carried out online via the Greek General Register of Commerce.
 
Since the financial crisis, Greece has experienced a significantly degraded business climate. Despite the many structural economic reforms undertaken since then, foreign investors continue to fear the weight of Greek bureaucracy and corruption. The government provides a number of incentives to try to reverse the investment trend (although the country is highly sought-after by Chinese investments) including :

  • Law 4487/2017 establishes the investment incentives framework for the production of audiovisual works in Greece, by providing a State grant (cash rebate) for an amount of up to 40%.
  • The Legislation for Integrated Tourism Resorts and Holiday Housing acts in combination with the Law for Residence permits (4251/2019), which offers to non-EU citizens the right to get a residence permit, if they own at least €250,000 real estate asset, or a sharing contract under Law 1652/1986, or a 10-year lease of hotel accommodations or furnished tourist accommodation (houses) in tourist accommodation complexes according to Article 8, par. 2 of Law 4002/2011. To know more about the Golden Visa Program, click here.
Bilateral investment conventions signed by Greece
To see the list of investment treaties signed by Greece, consult UNCTAD's International Investment Agreements Navigator.

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Latest Update: June 2022

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