Despite a raging COVID-19 pandemic fueled in part by the Omicron variant, the Greek economy's performance this year has been a surprise for policymakers and analysts, showing signs of a continued recovery.

The state budget which the parliament ratified on Dec. 18 foresees a minimum 4.5-percent growth rate next year after the 6.9 percent achieved this year, according to the government's conservative estimates to date.

According to Greek bankers and prominent economists, the growth rate in 2021 will eventually stand at 8.5 percent, far higher than the 4.5-percent forecast a year ago.

After recording a 9-percent economic plunge in 2020, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority, the recovery was viewed as an encouraging sign by analysts.

The rebound is impressive, Panagiotis Liargovas, chairman of the board of directors and scientific director of the Center of Planning and Economic Research, a leading research institute in Greece, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Noting that exports and investment grew by 40 percent and 18.2 percent respectively in a year, Liargovas said, "This is very promising, because it gives the signal that the growth model of Greece has started to change and be based on external factors like exports and investment rather than consumption. And I think it gives good prospects for 2022 and 2023."

"It was a really nice surprise for Greece. For the first time, Greece presents the highest rate of growth in the eurozone," added Panagiotis Petrakis, a professor in the Department of Economics at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

A cocktail of good performance in tourism industry, positive economic policy and the restart of the housing sector contributed to the positive outcome, Petrakis said.

Greece is experiencing a V-shaped recovery, according to the two professors.

Most of the financing coming from the projects of the NextGenerationEU, the European Union's recovery plan, will arrive in Greece the next year, Liargovas noted.

"Those funds will help us a lot in the digital and green transformation," Petrakis added.

Inflation and the pandemic will pose risks, noted the two experts.

Global inflation is driven by the increase in energy prices, but it is relatively low in Greece compared to the rest of the eurozone countries, and should last until next summer, Liargovas said.

A lot will depend on the impact of the new variants and the implementation of the right economic policy mix in Athens and Brussels to return to normalcy, Petrakis explained.

Win-win cooperation beyond borders is the key to progress, they said, noting the collaboration between Greece and China in recent years and the prospects for the future.

"I think there is a good basis so far in previous years regarding the cooperation between the two countries. We have the Port of Piraeus, the COSCO Shipping investment. We have cooperation in the educational and technological sectors," Liargovas told Xinhua.

"We can go more deeply, and we also have opportunities to extend this cooperation, because the two countries have a lot of issues in common," he said.


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