By Bryan Larson, Senior Commercial Officer in Athens, with editorial assistance by Monika Krol, Commercial Officer, Advocacy Center
The International Trade Administration (ITA) works on behalf of U.S. companies both at home and abroad. The ITA’s Advocacy Center, in coordination with the Senior Commercial Officer in Greece, and the Greek Country Desk Officer, were instrumental in securing a win in the healthcare sector in Greece for an American company.
The Greek market has been tough for U.S. companies to compete in due to the country’s seven- year recession, a byzantine bureaucracy, and a public procurement system that historically lacked transparency. However, GE Healthcare has generated a record of success in the Greek market by working closely with both the ITA and the Greek Government to improve public procurement of some of the world’s best medical technology.
The case involved exclusive advocacy by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who emphasized to the Greek Prime Minister the need for modern and transparent processes in the Public Procurement System, leveling the playing field for not only GE Healthcare, but all U.S. companies selling medical device and diagnostic equipment in Greece.
This advocacy yielded solutions that benefited Greek patients and ensured that Greek hospitals received the best equipment at the best price.
GE Healthcare competed for a large contract to provide medical technology (PET/CT equipment) to Greece’s Agia Sofia Children’s Hospital. The sale – which is 100 percent U.S. export content and supports American jobs – followed a concerted multi-year effort by the U.S. Commerce Department to work with the Greek Government to reduce discrimination in their public healthcare procurement system against U.S. companies for the benefit of European competitors. ITA’s team coordinated with the State Department, including the U.S. Ambassador, to ensure that GE Healthcare and the Healthcare Working Group’s agenda remained a top priority for the Greek Government. When the European company that was originally awarded the contract couldn’t deliver the goods, the Greek hospital relied on GE Healthcare to provide the life-saving equipment for its child patients.
This hard-fought advocacy campaign resulted in an agreement to create an authoritative Central Committee of Objections to fairly arbitrate appeals on public tenders. Additionally, the Greek Government passed and enacted a new Public Procurement Law on August 3, 2016. In partnering with the private sector, this model of Commercial Diplomacy not only resulted in bottom-line results for U.S. companies, but also led to long-term systemic change that will benefit American businesses, U.S. jobs, and the Greek people for years to come.