Beware of Greeks Bearing Empty Hands

The dire state of Greece's economy has begun to leave its mark on trade with Israel as hundreds of Israeli exporters report problems with their Greek customers.

Figures from the Israeli Credit Insurance Company indicate a dramatic downturn in payment ethic among Greek importers toward their Israeli suppliers, with November representing the worst month to date. Substantial late debt payment to Israeli exporters to Greece increased in the past year by 50% to about $10 million, compared to $6.5 million in the same period last year.

The ICIC defines "substantial debt" as a delay of more than 30 days beyond the agreed credit terms. It says that the increase in substantial debt affects all main export industries to Greece, including chemicals and pharmaceuticals, plastic products and irrigation, medical, electrical and farming equipment.

The Greek economy has been affected by the global economic crisis, but not drastically. Greece reported negative growth of -0.9% in the third quarter of 2009, compared to growth of 0.3% in European Union members overall.

However, the Greek government has not managed to keep the growing national debt under control. Greece's internal debt is expected to exceed 125% of gross domestic product in 2010, putting the country at risk of a financial crisis.