September 24, 2020

Greece Makes Progress in Opening Restricted Professions

ATHENS — Greece has opened up 247 of its 343 “closed professions” — occupations ranging from notary to taxi driver — where access had been subject to a maze of restrictions, government officials said Thursday.

The officials said the deregulated job market offered greater opportunities to the country’s job seekers as new figures showed the unemployment rate edging even higher.

“Of the 343 professions, 72 percent have been fully liberalized,” Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said during a joint news conference with Costis Hatzidakis, the development minister. Other fields, including law, engineering and architecture, were “being gradually opened up,” he added.

The progress in breaking open restricted-access occupations, something Greece’s foreign creditors have been demanding for the past three years, “is of extreme significance for those who don’t have work and who will now have better access to the job market,” Mr. Hatzidakis said.

His words came as the Greek national statistical service, Elstat, released figures showing that the unemployment rate reached 27 percent in February — up from 26.7 percent in January. The rate was 64.2 percent among Greeks 15 to 24, a record for Greece and the highest level in the euro zone.

A more effective crackdown on tax evasion and the liberalization of closed professions are the two key areas where Greek reforms are lagging, according to a report released earlier this week by the International Monetary Fund, which together with the European Union has extended two bailouts, worth €240 billion, or $315 billion, to Greece since 2010.

The I.M.F.’s report hailed efforts by the country to reduce its budget deficit and debt burden.

Euro zone finance ministers are to decide Monday on the release of a €4.2 billion tranche of aid for the first quarter of the year. Mr. Stournaras said Thursday that he would ask his European peers to approve the release of another installment, worth €3.3 billion, scheduled for the second quarter.

In an interview with state television earlier Thursday, Mr. Stournaras said he believed Greece would return to bond markets by the end of 2014 after bond yields on Wednesday dropped to their lowest levels since last year’s government debt restructuring.

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Boeing Raises Forecast for Commercial Airplane Demand

PARIS — Boeing on Thursday raised its long-range forecast for commercial aircraft demand, citing expectations that annual increases in passenger and cargo traffic — particularly in Asia — would continue to outpace average global economic growth over the next two decades.

The U.S. plane maker predicted that airlines would buy 33,500 new jets through 2030. That represented an increase of 8.5 percent from its previous forecast of 30,900 planes made last July as airlines were just beginning to emerge from a downturn triggered by the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Boeing, based in Chicago, said the new orders would be worth $4 trillion, up 11 percent from the $3.6 trillion forecast a year ago.

“The world market has recovered and is now expanding at a significant rate,” said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing at Boeing’s commercial airplanes division. “Not only is there a strong demand for air travel and new airplanes today, but the fundamental drivers of air travel — including economic growth, world trade and liberalization — all point to a healthy long-term demand.”

The 20-year forecast from Boeing was announced in advance of the Paris Air Show, which opens Monday at Le Bourget airport, north of the capital. It compares with one published by Airbus in December, which predicted sales of 26,000 commercial planes through the end of 2029, with a market value of $3.2 trillion.

The International Air Transport Association, a trade group based in Geneva, predicted this month that carriers would report a collective profit of around $4 billion this year after recording a $18 billion profit in 2010. The industry lost a combined $26 billion in the 2008-2009 period.

Boeing predicted global gross domestic product growth would average around 3.3 percent per year over the next 20 years, with the economies of China and India each expected to expand by around 7 percent annually. Global air traffic was likely to continue growing at an average yearly clip of just over 5 percent. Within the Asia-Pacific region, air traffic was likely to grow by an average of 7 percent a year, Boeing said, compared with just 2.3 percent annual growth within North America and 4 percent within Europe.

“We expect passenger traffic to almost triple over the next 20 years, while cargo will more than triple,” Mr. Tinseth said.

The vast majority of new aircraft sales — around 70 percent — would be of single-aisle planes like the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320, which normally seat around 150-200 passengers, Boeing said. Twin-aisle wide-bodies like Airbus’s planned A350-XWB and the forthcoming Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” would represent about 22 percent.

The single-aisle segment is the most hotly contested for both Boeing and Airbus, which each claim roughly 50 percent of the market. But the two companies are expected to begin to face competition at the beginning of the next decade when other manufacturers — including Bombardier of Canada, Comac of China and Embraer of Brazil — are expected to start deliveries of jets that can seat similar numbers of passengers to the 737 and the A320.

Boeing said it expected single-aisle jet sales over the next 20 years would reach $1.9 trillion, surpassing an expected $1.8 trillion for wide-bodies.

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