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The Greek Market for Marble and Granite
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The Greek Market for Marble and Granite


The marble industry is regarded as an important sector of the Greek economy, with potential for further growth. Marble constitutes an important rock of the mineral wealth of our country not only due to its inexhaustible supply, but also thanks to the unique quality and variety of colors, which identify it. Greek marble, and particularly the marble of Thasos, is known worldwide and forms the primary type of exported marble.

Greece is an important producer, occupying a good position in the global primary production of rock. The total mine production has risen sharply; coming up from 141.000 tones in 1996 to 1.980.000 tones in 1999. Exporting activity has also been heavy with total unprocessed marble exported amounting to around 87.000 tones in 1998 from 57.000 tones in 1996.

Domestic production of end marble products was in the area of 1.600.000 tones for the last three year period (1997 - 1999), with slight down trends from year to year (annual drop of about 2.5%).

The marble sector comprises a large number of mainly decentralized production units, which mine a large variety of marble pack, due to the existence of plenty of marble producing deposits throughout Greece. A basic characteristic of these business units' structure is the verticalisation of production (quarrying of marble, cutting and process as well as the production of end products). Most of these business units in the sector have modern production facilities at their disposal and produce a diversified range of end products both in standard as well as in special dimension formats.

The marble sector, being as it is export oriented, constitutes one of the few sectors in the Greek economy which is in a position to compete in the international market. Total exports value (both of processed and of unprocessed marble) is estimated to be in the area of GDR 30 bil. For 1999, marking a drop of around 12% compared to 1998 value (GDR 34 bil.).

Albania has been the primary destination country for exported quantities of unprocessed marble in 1998, covering 13% of total exports. Large quantities were exported to Taiwan, Hong-Kong and Italy, which absorbed, respectively, 12,3%, 11,3% and 11% of total volume exported in 1998.

Saudi Arabia is the primary destination country for processed marble occupying the largest share at 20% of total exported quantities in 1998. Hong-Kong and U.S.A follow, having received 13,8% and 8,1% respectively of the total exported quantity of processed marble in 1998.

Although Greek marbles have conquered many markets world wide, they meet intense competition on the one hand from countries such as China, Italy, Spain, Portugal etc., and on the other hand from substitute products, and primarily from ceramic tiles, due to the easier handling of those materials and the lower costs involved. The result of all this is the drop in market share for the primary use of marble (flooring) and its use mainly in special constructions (stairs).

However, the said sector occupies a position of advantage in the global market of marble products, due to the unique white marbles, which we dispose.

The percentage share of granite in the overall market of market of marble - granite has shown an increase in the 1994 - 1999 period. More specifically, its market share has risen from 1.1% in 1994 to 2.2% in 1997, 2.6% in 1998 and 3.0% in 1999. Domestic apparent consumption of processed granite has been on the increase in recent years and is estimated to be in the area of 380.000 m for 1999 up from 330.000 m in 1998 (15,1% increase for the 1999/1998 period) and 280.000 m in 1997 (marking a 17.8% increase in 1998 over 1997 figures). It is worth noting that the above figures do not include the granite quantities, which were imported and used for the needs of the Athens Metro.

Future developments in the sector are directly dependent on the resolution of institution matters, the levels of construction activity, competition from substitute products and the developments in the exporting activity of the sector.

Overall, however, further modernization is necessary, as well as a change in the system employed for the issue and renewal of business permits.

For the two-year period (2000 - 2001) both primary domestic production of marble as well as the domestic apparent consumption of end marble products are expected to show a steady course, with no substantial changes from year to year, with an annual rate of 1% (in quantity).

The size of the domestic market of unprocessed granite is expected to continue its rise from resent years, marking an annual growth rate of around 10% (in terms of quantity) for the 2000 - 2001 period.

Source: Athens Chamber of Commerce & Industry



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