Germany’s Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel is embarking on a three-day trip to Greece, where he is expected to focus on intensifying bilateral trade and investment partnership amid the fallout from Brexit.
Gabriel, who is also Germany’s economy minister, will kickstart his visit to the southeast European nation on Thursday, June 30. In Athens, the minister will hold talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and other senior officials.
Gabriel will be accompanied by a large German business delegation, and bolstering bilateral econnomic cooperation is expected to be high on the agenda.
The visit comes days after the UK referendum in which a majority of the British electorate voted to leave the European Union. The move sent shockwaves across the world and initially triggered sharp falls in financial markets.
While stock and currency markets have recovered a little, there are still widespread concerns about the potential negative impact of the fallout from the Brexit on both the UK as well as the EU economies.
In the case of Greece, the development is likely to become one more drag on the nation’s already crisis-stricken economy. Tourism has been one of the bright spots of the Greek economy, and a significant proportion of the tourists visiting the country are from Britain.
Tourism faces problems
But the Brexit vote and the ensuing plunge in the value of the pound could reduce the number of British tourist arrivals to Greece, potentially hurting the Greek tourism sector.
Against this backdrop, Gabriel is expected to reassure Greek officials that Germany is committed to bolstering economic engagement with Greece.
Talks will also focus on promoting bilateral cooperation in the area of renewable energy, with a number of companies such as Emerson, Nordex and SolarWorld sending their representatives as part of the minister’s trade delegation.
Germany is one of the major investors in the southern European country, with around 120 German companies operating there and employing about 39,000 Greeks, according to data from the Hellenic-German Chamber of Commerce, an Athens-based trade body.