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Greece - Selling and buying

Contents extracted from the comprehensive atlas of international trade by Export Entreprises

Reaching the consumers

Marketing opportunities

Consumer behavior: Greece adopted the euro as its new common currency in January 2002. The adoption of the euro provided Greece (formerly a high inflation risk country under the drachma) with access to competitive loan rates and also to low rates of the Eurobond market. This led to a dramatic increase in consumer spending which gave a significant boost to economic growth.
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    Distribution network

    Evolution of the sector: Distribution is a major sector of Greece's economy. In 2010, the Greek retail market was worth 54.3 billion EUR. Commercial establishments represented 45% of companies in the secondary and tertiary sector.

    In 2009 and 2010 many small shops have closed because they could not cope with falling demand and rising consumer prices. As a result, department stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets are becoming key components of industry retail sales in Greece, particularly in the context of the economic recession which is currently affecting the country.
    Types of outlet: Traditional distribution networks- small sized independent merchants serviced by regional wholesalers, continue to be widespread. In 2003, they were approximately 300,000 in number. However, more modern distribution networks have now sprung up and the leaders in food distribution in Greece are now large groups:
    - the largest is the group Marinopoulos (20% owned by Carrefour) which had a turnover of 1.458 billion Euros in 2003.
    - Followed by the group Delhaize-Alpha Vita Vassilopoulos with a turnover of 901.6 million Euros in 2003.
    The other visible trend is the development of discount supermarkets. Thus, the German hard discount group Lidl recently set up in Greece. Mostly discount supermarkets like Makro (in Greek) and Baazar Discount are found here. However, the discount market remains relatively small in size as it represented only 6% of the food distribution market in 2004.

    Until 2000, the non-food distribution market was mainly dominated by national groups but the trend has completely changed since then : international groups have started making investments. Thus, the British group Currys (specialized in electrical home appliances) took over Kotsovolos, Fnac has set up in Athens in 2006 (commercial center The Mall Athens) and Ikéa opened its first store in 2001.

    Market access procedures

    Non tariff barriers: In accordance with its European Union membership, Greece applies the European Union (EU) rules that are in force in all European Union countries. While the EU has a rather liberal foreign trade policy, there is a certain number of restrictions, especially on farm products, following the implementation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): the application of compensations on import and export of farm products, aimed at favoring the development of agriculture within the EU, implies a certain number of control and regulation systems for the goods entering the EU territory.
    Greece maintains nationality restrictions on a number of professional and business services, including legal advice. These restrictions do not apply to EU citizens. Visit this website for more information on trade barriers
    Average Customs Duty (excluding agricultural products): Following Greece’s entry into the EU, cross border trading is no longer subject to strict controls. Transactions between residents of EU member states are not considered imports or exports and therefore they are not charged any duty. Sales to purchasers registered for VAT in EU member states are not subject to VAT in Greece provided that there are the VAT registration numbers of the supplier and purchaser on the invoice.
    Customs classification: In order to get exhaustive regulations and custom tariffs rates regarding their products, exporters shall refer to the TARIC code and its database, which includes all applicable customs duties and all customs trade policy measures for all the goods.
    Import procedures: For goods of a value under 1,000 kg or 1,000 EUR, a verbal declaration at Customs, and presenting the invoice, is sufficient.
    For higher values, you must deposit at the Customs office:
    1) a brief declaration (air or maritime manifest) to conclude the collection of the goods.
    2) a common law declaration (SAD, single administrative document), as well as the accompanying documents to allow their clearance.
    The SAD form can be obtained from Chambers of Commerce or an approved printer. A computerized Customs clearance platform (SOFI: International freight computer system) can be accessed in Customs offices or in some Chambers of Commerce.

    In the case of deliveries and purchases within the European Community, the declaration of exchange of goods (DEB) or Intrastat declaration must be sent to the Customs service.

    As part of the "SAFE" standards advocated by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the European Union has set up a new system of import controls, the "Import Control System" (ICS), which aims to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system, part of the Community Program eCustomer, has been in effect since January 1, 2011. Since then, operators are required to pass an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the customs territory of the European Union.

    Customs website: Greek Customs Office

    Organizing goods transport

    Organizing goods transport to and from: Greece has approximately 40,000 kilometers of roads. Of them, 31,000 kilometers are part of the regional network, while the remaining 9,000 constitute the main road network. Greece has currently embarked on a massive program of public works, which are co-funded by the EU. The Patras-Thessaloniki highway, which will extend to the Bulgarian border, as well as the Egnatia highway from Igoumenitsa to Alexandroupoli, are good examples of the scope of the public works. Road transport is used for a significant proportion of the goods transported domestically.

    Greece has 2,500 kilometers of railway on two main routes: Athens-Thessaloniki and Athens-Corinth-Patras-Kalamata. The state-owned Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) controls the railways and has begun a gradual program of modernizing and expanding the existing network in cooperation with the EU. Rail transport accounts for 4% of passenger traffic and 1% of the freight transported only. 

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