A couple of hours before Greek prime Minister Alexis Tsipras arrives at the White House, the administration of US President Donald sent a message: the US may boost investments in Greece.
Economic and defense issues will be high on the agenda at the meeting of the two leaders, investment in Greece’s oil resources and the military basis of Souda, Crete, and Araxos, in Western Greece.
It should be reminded that Donald Trump has appreciated Greece’s contributions to the NATO, when other allies with less or not any economic problems refused to fulfill their obligations to North Atlantic Alliance.
According to CNBC, “the flow of U.S. investment to Greece is taking on a new urgency as the Trump administration looks to shore up economic and defense cooperation” with a key NATO ally.
Citing diplomatic sources, CNBC notes that the leaders will focus on investments and collaboration in the field of energy. “Greece’s contingent oil reserves are estimated at 950 million barrels,” said Costis Stambolis, executive director of the Institute for Energy for South East Europe (IENE). “To date, however, 50 million of proven reserves have been discovered.” Major energy companies are lining up to tap the country’s hydrocarbon potential in the waters surrounding southern Crete and the Grevena region in northern Greece, close to the route of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline.
At the same time, “Greece is a potential customer for U.S. LNG exports. Greece has plans to increase LNG imports next year,” Stambolis says. “It expanded its port facilities near Pireaus, and it’s planning to build a floating storage terminal for LNG in Alexandroupoli, northern Greece.”
Another top issue of the agenda will be the extension of the agreement for the use of the U.S. naval base in Souda Bay, Crete, and the upgrading of the Greek fleet of F-16 military jets. The base plays a crucial strategic role in the Trump administration’s plan to combat ISIS and terrorism and protect energy routes in the Middle East and the Gulf. In addition, sources have reported there may be plans to build a second military base in southern Crete.
It is expected that Trump and Tsipras will examine ways to open the spigot on U.S. capital flows to Greece. Right now the United States is the sixth-largest foreign investor in Greece, an indebted nation trying to pull itself out of a severe depression for a decade.
Already there have been signs that U.S. investors are more willing to take on Greek risk.
Calamos Investments’ recent acquisition of Ethniki Insurance, Greece’s largest insurance company, was a vote of confidence in the economic turnaround. The deal for a 75 percent stake in the insurer — a subsidiary of the National Bank of Greece — was made in June through a consortium of Calamos and Exin Partners. Calamos Investments is a global investment firm with more than $20 billion of assets under management. Exin is a Dutch investor focused on insurance, reinsurance and asset management.
The meeting between Tsipras and Trump is set for 7 p.m. (Greek time), joint statements are scheduled for 8:30 p.m. after a working lunch.
PS and then one day, Donald Trump will visit Greece, as the protocol dictates.