1) Vangelis example
It must have been shortly after the mid-1990s when I interviewed E.B. Mytileneos of Kefalios Magazine, who had then introduced a small metal trading company to the Amman Stock Exchange.
Due to some dynamism, we made him the cover of our monthly chapter (and if I remember correctly Entrepreneur of the Year – it would be interesting to find that interview).
A few years later, he bought METKA and then Aluminum of Greece which, together with refineries, cement and steel plants (before their bankruptcy) formed the backbone of our post-war heavy industry.
In the past 10-15 years, METKA has evolved from being a subcontractor to multinational companies, such as General Electric, Siemens, ABB and others for the power module projects it implemented in Greece, to its international competitor.
Today there are several combined cycle power plants in the Middle East and North Africa that were built by Greek engineers, electricians and metallurgists through projects undertaken by METKA. Parts of the armored Panthers were also manufactured at the company's factory in Volos.
The way the group has adapted in recent years to developments in alternative forms of energy and raw materials is very rapid for a large Greek company.
I remembered all this when I read the day before yesterday that the Mytilene Group produced 3% of Greece's GDP in 2023, and that in 24 it will reach 4%, with 70% of its sales going to international markets.
See: Eve. Mytileneos: Mytileneos aims to generate 4% of Greece's GDP in 2024
Based on 2021 data, the group employs just under 3,000 workers and, as we said, this year it will produce 4% of GDP, which is expected to exceed 210 billion euros.
If we take another strategic sector of the Greek economy, the agri-food sector, the numbers follow the opposite path and develop disappointingly.
Greek agriculture for example. It employs 528,000 farmers, 12% and produces 3.6% of the national GDP. 20 years ago we produced more than 6%.
The total exploited agricultural area reaches 28,244,498.8 hectares, a decrease of 18.8% (34,779,290.1) compared to 2009. 47.9% arable land (13,523,098.8), 27.4% trees (7,747,043.2), 2.1% vines (607,098.9), 0.2% greenhouse. Agricultural machinery (48,720) And 22.4% gardens, pastures, meadows, fallow areas, and others (6,318,535.9). The average GGE size is 53.8 acres.
It is clear what reforms need to be made in the agriculture and livestock sector. Instead of tens or hundreds of thousands of small producers, a few hundred large agricultural enterprises should emerge.
So instead of tens of thousands of tractors and other plowing, harvesting, irrigation, etc. machines, they would need a few hundred tractors that would do more work and depreciate their value in a few months rather than a few decades.
I understand that this reform means eliminating or transferring tens of thousands of jobs. On the other hand, it is of course the only rational and sustainable way to increase productivity and wages and provide cheaper food products on the shelf.
Let us not kid ourselves, government measures and controls on prices and profit margins are like aspirin for treating “cancer”.
The problem of high food prices stems mainly from the lack of economies of scale in agricultural production. In other products, it is about high taxes, high pension costs, closed professions and so on.
In Spain and Portugal for example. In recent decades, olive cultivation for the production of olive oil has changed and become mechanized.
Olives are grown in rows on thousands of acres, and the result is that the plants are fertilized, protected, and the fruits are harvested using machines that are less expensive and more productive.
No matter how many Pakistanis we import, we cannot realize the cost and speed of mechanized farming and the economies of scale for crops grown on large areas.
I constantly hear the question why wages in Greece are so low and prices so high. The low productivity of the Greek economy is the main solution.
For the country to turn this page, we need ten cases like Mytileneos in the field of industry and technology and ten cases in Georgia.
Note: 1: In anticipation of some comments about subsidies and cheap electricity. The subsidies that international competitors and the agricultural sector now receive are manifold. Energy costs of international competitors are generally cheaper.
Note: 2: The M. Group produces 4% of the country's GDP and the lion's share comes from abroad, without the need for football teams, TV channels, etc. to do its job. This is unforgettable for those who want to do business in Greece and are concerned that the system seems closed.
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