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Op-Ed: A Launching Point for Growth in the U.S.-Greece Relationship

Last October, President Trump accepted Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ invitation for the United States to be the honored country at the 83rd Thessaloniki International Fair. (TIF). The U.S. Pavilion and our extensive commercial, defense and cultural representation at the Fair symbolize the strong U.S. support for Greece throughout its long economic crisis and our commitment to continue this support.

I am honored to represent President Trump as the head of the U.S. delegation, which includes many of our colleagues in the Departments of State and Energy, the White House, and Congress.

We also have over 50 U.S. companies represented here in a range of sectors, including healthcare, aerospace, defense, information technology, consumer products, energy, education and more – the U.S. companies present at this event truly represent the innovative and entrepreneurial nature of American business.

Collectively, our decision to have such a robust presence here at the Thessaloniki International Fair demonstrates our confidence in Greece’s economic future as well as the desire of American business to be partners in promoting that future. 

This particular TIF occurs as the Greek economy is emerging from a difficult period and is officially re-entering global markets. The United States has stood shoulder to shoulder with our Greek allies as they have turned the page and rebuilt their economy. The Trump Administration values our close partnership and seeks to further bolster our trade and investment ties.

Our bilateral trade totals over two billion dollars and is growing, and investment flows are also expanding. U.S. investment has helped play an integral role in the Greek economy and will continue to do so. 

I’m glad to see ExxonMobil teaming up with Hellenic Petroleum to explore for oil and gas reserves west of Crete. We see opportunities for American investment in Greece’s ambitious projects for pipelines, liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals expansion, a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU), all of which also help Greece play a growing role as an energy hub for the wider region.  We also see major interest in privatizations like the Hellinikon project and maritime assets including the port of Alexandroupolis.

Lockheed Martin is working with Hellenic Aerospace Industries to upgrade Greece’s fleet of F-16 aircraft, a contract worth 1.2 billion euros with great economic benefits for both our countries.

We also see potential in the Information, Communications, and Technology (ICT) market, with innovative U.S. firms helping expand e-government services and improve broadband penetration, 5G, electronic transactions, cloud-computing services, and cybersecurity.

Prominent U.S. companies working in Greece are making significant commitments to Corporate Social Responsibility Projects.  Coca-Cola is working with the City of Thessaloniki on a Smart Cities project to revolutionize how the city’s residents deal with recycling and environmental issues.  Cisco is providing telemedicine services to refugees, helping Greece face one of the most difficult migration crises in world history.

In 2017, Greece ranked as the fastest growing source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the United States. In June, I welcomed a strong 22-person delegation of Greek companies to the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington where they learned why the United States is a great place for companies to invest and grow their businesses.

But we are just scratching the surface. We can and will do more.

President Trump appointed me as co-chair of the U.S.-Greece Bilateral Trade and Investment Working Group, along with Deputy Prime Minister Dragasakis. The group was established after the Prime Minister’s meeting with President Trump last October.

We are discussing important topics such as intellectual property rights protection and regulatory transparency, so that U.S. companies can succeed here in Greece, with mutually beneficial outcomes for both of our economies. 

This working group is an essential part of the government to government strategic dialogue that we will accelerate over the next few months as we examine ways to further bolster our security and defense and economic relationships. 

I believe this 83rd Thessaloniki International Fair will be a launching point for even more growth of the U.S.-Greece relationship, and a further strengthening of our commercial, defense and cultural ties.