September 11, 2018 / 10:42 AM / 14 days ago

Greece could follow U.S. and deregulate to push growth: Commerce Secretary Ross

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece could learn a lesson from the United States and deregulate its economy to push for stronger growth as it emerges from three international bailouts, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras meets with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at his office, a day before the opening of the annual International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki, Greece, September 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

Greece exited the biggest bailout in economic history last month after nine years of strict supervision by its foreign lenders - its euro zone partners and the Washington-based International Monetary Fund.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras shakes hands with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at his office, a day before the opening of the annual International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki, Greece, September 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

“Greece has made great strides getting out of the bailout, the next step is how to get the economy on a real growth path,” Ross told Greek state TV ERT.

Greece’s economy has been recovering after a deep recession that shrank it by a quarter and drove unemployment to nearly 28 percent. National output has expanded in the last six quarters, helping the jobless rate to come down to 19.1 percent.

On an annual basis, Greece’s economic expansion decelerated to 1.8 percent in the second quarter from an upwardly revised 2.5 percent in the first three months of the year.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross meets with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (not pictured) at his office, a day before the opening of the annual International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki, Greece, September 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

“I think 2.0 percent is not going to solve Greece’s problems, it won’t solve the unemployment problem,” Ross said. “What we did in the U.S. was we got rid of a lot of regulations to help businesses grow.”

As a result, he said, capital spending and companies hiring of employees “went right through the sky”.

Ross said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had a good relationship with U.S. President Trump.

“He (Tsipras) is as pro-American as we are pro-Greece. That’s a very important bond of friendship. He got on quite well with President Trump.”

Ross has been in Thessaloniki in northern Greece, the host city of an international trade fair.

Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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