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中国株レポート
投資の視点
新興成長国基礎データ
中華人民共和国
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Geography

Mainland Greece and its islands in the Mediterranean and Aegean have a total land area of over 130,000 sq. km, with an economy as yet only semi-industrialised and a pattern of land use that strongly reflects a historic dependence on agriculture (40% pasture, 22% arable and 20% forest land in 1985).

Demography

The 1992 population was estimated at about 10.2 million, over 60% urbanised. The principal centres are the capital, Athens (with a metropolitan area population of some 3.1 million) and Thessaloniki, the economic hub of northern Greece, with about 975,000 inhabitants. Annual rates of population growth have declined throughout the 1980s, standing currently at about 0.1%.

All Greeks have the right to free education in the state's educational institutions. Education is compulsory for nine years, with six years of elementary and three years of secondary. Greece has a smaller proportion of pupils receiving technical education than other EC countries,. however, progress is now being made under the European Community Support Framework.

A survey by the National Statistical Service indicated a 1991 labour force totalling almost 4.0 million - 25% in agriculture, 19% in services, 18.5% in industry and 14.3% in commerce. In recent years, recession has pushed the unemployment rate to record levels, with the official estimate for 1992 being 9%. According to the OECD, however, urban unemployment is in excess of 10%, and rising, compared with a 35% rate in rural areas. More worryingly, the rate of unemployment among school leavers in the age range 20-24 is about 35%.

History and Political Situation

Following the 1967 military coup and the exile of the Greek Royal Family, Colonel Giorgios Papadopoulos became Prime Minister and then President of a new Republic in July 1973. In 1975, a parliamentary democracy was established following the overthrow of Papadopoulos and the rejection of a return to constitutional monarchy.

In 1980 Greece rejoined the NATO alliance after a 6 year absence, and in 1981 become a member of the European Community. The elections of 1981 were won by PASOK (the Socialist Party), led by Andreas Papandreou, ending almost half a century of conservative domination in Greek politics. Pasok's parliamentary majority was increased in the 1985 elections, which allowed the Government to bring in economic austerity measures, restoring some basis of confidence among investors.

In the June 1989 elections, PASOK found itself deeply divided over Papandreou's leadership. A combination of personal and political indiscretions, as well as allegations of corruption, led to an inconclusive election outcome, and to a further general election in November, 1989. Following this November election, Greece's political leaders agreed to form an all-party government to rule until April 1990.

In the fresh election in April 1990, New Democracy secured exactly half the deputies in parliament. Mitsotakis won the support of the single member elected from Democratic Renewal, a party which had splintered from New Democracy five years earlier, and with this single seat majority he secured a mandate to form a government.

Economy

The Greek economy has been characterised by persistently high rates of inflation and unemployment, relative to its European partners. The advantages its products obtained in EC markets through the early 1980s had little impact on the deficit in the balance of payments caused by the country's dependence on imported petroleum. It was in response to these problems that Papandreou introduced his 1985 Economic Stabilisation Programme, combining cuts in government expenditure, the virtual freezing of salaries, devaluation of the drachma, and import restrictions. Over a two-year period, the programme succeeded in reducing inflation and narrowing the trade deficit, but the perceived decline in living standards led to popular unrest and the programme was abandoned in December 1987.

The conservative governments of the 1970s maintained broadly balanced ordinary budgets but ran deficits when the investment budget was taken into account. These were contained in the period 1974-80 at less than 5% of GDP. Under the PASOK government, however, the deficits mounted rapidly because of its redistributive income policy, efforts to establish a universal pension entitlement and large subsidies to agriculture and public sector enterprises. In 1989 the broader public sector borrowing requirement was over 20% of GDP.

The lead-up to the June 1989 election saw a complete reversal of the earlier austerity policies, as PASOK engaged in large scale pork-barrelling in an attempt to stay in power. Greece has paid for this in terms of a massive increase in the public sector deficit, rising inflation and a worsening in the current account.

The New Democracy government moved swiftly to introduce an economic stabilisation programme. It introduced a budget for 1990 with medium-term fiscal targets designed to produce a modest primary surplus in 1992 and to curb the growth of public debt. It passed a bill containing provisions to facilitate privatisation of state owned industries, to eliminate labour law rigidities, to allow the sale of up to 49% of public sector enterprises, and to remove from public sector control major financial instructions such as commercial banks and the stock exchange. Implementation has proved difficult, especially the attempts to increase revenue by widening the tax net to include politically sensitive sectors such as agriculture. Privatisation of poorly run state-owned companies has also proved to be a hot potato.

The Bank of Greece, to its credit, has maintained a tight monetary policy with high real interest rates, rather than letting the currency go into free-fall.

Privatisation is, however, now starting to be implemented, with inward capital flows encouraged by Greece's membership of the EEC, and the consequent liberalisation and deregulation for many industries, combined with guaranteed access to other European markets. Amidst the recent political turmoil, private sector confidence has not been as shaken as in the past - recognising, perhaps, that politicians' future scope for carrying out wild economic policies is increasingly being confined by EEC membership. With improved economic management gradually being forced upon Greece, the already dynamic private sector of the economy should be well positioned to expand and offer a widening range of possibilities for the international investor.

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