ATHENS, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Greece is leaving the eight-year financial crisis behind and is moving into the future, Grigoris Stergioulis, Chairman of Enterprise Greece, the official trade and investment promotion agency of the Greek state, said on Friday as Athens is set to formally exit the bailout programs era on Aug. 20.
"These next few weeks are proof of the remarkable transition the country has undertaken from financial crisis to robust recovery," Stergioulis said in an- emailed press statement, citing two upcoming events as evidence of the change.
In late August, Greece is exiting the last of three successive European financial assistance programs, ending more than eight years of special oversight by its Eurozone partners.
A few weeks later, in early September, Greece will host Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), an annual, flagship trade fair in the northern city of Thessaloniki. More than 1,400 exhibitors and close to 300,000 visitors -- almost 50 percent more visitors than just two years ago -- are expected.
The growing success of the TIF is representative of Greece's turnaround story, Stergioulis said.
Emerging from recession last year, the country's economy is now growing at a 2 percent rate, led by an export boom. Last year, exports rose more than 13 percent to a record high of 29 billion euros (33.2 billion U.S. dollars) and are on track to set a new record this year, while foreign investment in Greece is back to pre-crisis levels.
"Greece is stepping up its privatizations drive, economic sentiment is at pre-crisis levels, and unemployment is steadily declining. After years of painful cutbacks, the Greek government budget is in surplus," the official noted.
"Enterprise Greece supports the outward orientation of the Greek economy... Last year, Enterprise Greece organized Greek participation at 45 international exhibitions abroad, 30 training seminars on export procedures, and supported more than 1,100 small- and medium-sized businesses interested in exporting to foreign markets...This year it is organizing trade delegations to 57 international exhibitions, a quarter more than last year," Stergioulis added. (1 euro = 1.15 U.S. dollars)