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In this page: FDI in Figures | What to consider if you invest in Greece | Protection of Foreign Investment | Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment | Office Real Estate and Land Ownership | Investment Aid | Investment Opportunities | Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer | Finding Assistance For Further Information

 

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 201820192020
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 3,9735,0193,572
FDI Stock (million USD) 35,73845,15451,801
Number of Greenfield Investments* 433442
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 9811,8422,079

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.

 

FDI STOCKS BY COUNTRY AND INDUSTRY

Main Investing Countries 2019, in %
Germany 20.5
Luxembourg 19.9
The Netherlands 15.9
Switzerland 7.9
Belgium 6.0
Italy 3.8
France 3.8
Main Invested Sectors 2019, in %
Manufacturing 24.0
Information and communication 15.0
Wholesale and retail trade 14.7
Transport and storage 9.3
Financial service activities 8.0
Real estate 5.8

Source: OECD's Statistics - Latest available data.

 
Form of Company Preferred By Foreign Investors
Consult Invest in Greece website.
Form of Establishment Preferred By Foreign Investors
Consult Enterprise Greece website.
Main Foreign Companies
Coca Cola Hellas Bottling, Philip Morris Group (Papastratos), Vodafone, Carrefour, Amstel-Heineken (Athenian Brewery), Beiersdorf, etc.
Sources of Statistics
Hellenic Statistical Authority

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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.

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Protection of Foreign Investment

Bilateral Investment Conventions Signed By Greece
To see the list of investment treaties signed by Greece, consult UNCTAD's International Investment Agreements Navigator.
International Controversies Registered By UNCTAD
Refer to UNCTAD's Investment Dispute Settlement Navigator.
Organizations Offering Their Assistance in Case of Disagreement
ICCWBO , International court of arbitration, International chamber of commerce
ICSID , International Center for settlement of Investment Disputes
Member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
Greece is a signatory to the Convention of the MIGA.
 
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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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
Foreign and domestic private entities have the legal right to establish and own businesses in Greece at the same conditions.
Acquisition of Holdings
A majority holding interest in the capital of a Greek company by a foreign investor is legal, except in some sensitive sectors (i.e. airport operations, electricity and media).
Obligation to Declare
At the moment, Greece does not implement an investment screening mechanism.
Competent Organisation For the Declaration
General Electronic Commercial Registry (GEMI)
Ministry of Development and Investment
Requests For Specific Authorisations
Airport operations, electricity, media.

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Office Real Estate and Land Ownership

Possible Temporary Solutions
Consult InstantOffices, Coworker, Tospitimou, etc.
The Possibility of Buying Land and Industrial and Commercial Buildings
In general, foreigners can buy properties and land at the same conditions as Greek citizens. Restrictions exist on land purchases in border regions and on certain islands in light of national security considerations.
Risk of Expropriation
Private property may be expropriated only for public interest, in a non-discriminatory manner and with prompt, adequate, and effective compensation.
There have been no expropriation actions involving the real property of foreign investments in recent history.

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Investment Aid

Forms of Aid
In recent years, the Greek parliament approved several laws to support local and foreign investments, including:
- the “fast track” law, which simplifies the licensing and approval process for “strategic” investments
- Investment Law 4146/2013, which provides additional incentives, dependent on the sector and the location of the investment, aimed at increasing liquidity, accelerate investment processes, and ensure transparency
- law 4399/2016, entitled “Statutory framework to the establishment of Private Investments Aid Schemes for the regional and economic development of the country”, which offers incentives for companies that invest from EUR 50,000 (Social Cooperative Companies) up to EUR 500,000 (large sized companies) as well as tax breaks. The Greek government provides funds to cover part of the eligible expenses of the investment plan; the amount of the subsidy is determined based on the region and the business size.

For further information, consult Enterprise Greece's portal.

Privileged Domains
Investment aids take the form of credit facilities, simplifies bureaucratic procedures, grants, tax breaks, etc.
Privileged Geographical Zones
Law 3894/2010 (so-called "fast track" law) gives Enterprise Greece the authority to expedite licensing procedures for qualifying investments in the several sectors: industry, energy, tourism, transportation, telecommunications, health services, waste management, or high-end technology/innovation. For further information, visit the dedicated page on Enterprise Greece's portal.
Free-trade zones
Greece has three free-trade zones, located at Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Heraklion port areas. Greek and foreign-owned firms enjoy the same conditions in these areas. Goods of foreign origin may be brought into these zones without payment of customs duties or other taxes and remain free of all duties and taxes if subsequently transshipped or re-exported.
Public aid and funding organisations
Ministry of Development and Investment
 
 

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Investment Opportunities

The Key Sectors of the National Economy
Tourism is the first sector of the country, followed by the merchant marine.
The service sector is the fastest growing sector in the Greek economy (commercial and financial services, real estate, transport and communications).
The other main sectors are cosmetics, information and communication technologies (especially e-commerce) and agribusiness.
High Potential Sectors
The energy sector; renewables, ICT. For further information, visit the "sectors for growth" section on Enterprise Greece's portal.
Privatization Programmes
The government has launched a vast process of privatisation of several state-owned enterprises as a consequence of the bailout agreement: banking sector, privatization of airports, ports (Piraeus, Thessaloniki), port services equipment, highway and energy (gas).
In general, privatizations are subject to a straightforward, non-discriminatory and transparent public bidding process.
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Tenders Info, Tenders in Greece
Ted - Tenders Electronic Daily, Business Opportunities in the European Union
dgMarket, Tenders Worldwide
ESIDIS, National System of Electronic Public Procurement

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Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer

Monopolistic Sectors
There are restrictions on foreign investment in the energy sector, the media sector, land purchases in border areas and on certain islands, and on land considered important for national security.

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Latest Update: June 2022