The Greek economy grew by 2.3 pct in the first quarter of 2018, after a 2.0 pct growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2017, the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said in a report released on Wednesday.

IOBE said that economic growth in the first three months of the year was based on an improvement in the country’s external balance as exports grew 7.6 pct and imports fell 2.8 pct. Investments dropped 12.1 pct, household consumption eased 0.4 pct and public consumption rose 0.3 pct in the January-March period.

?The quarterly report coincides with a very important period for the country. The completion of the third memorandum. The damage to the economy and the country is very great. Efforts for drastic reforms to improve economic activity and attract foreign investments, designed to preserve the living standards of the previous decade failed to meet the necessary social support. Thus, our living standards, which approached that of Scandinavian countries before the crisis, currently approach that of the other Balkan countries,? Takis Athanasopoulos, president of IOBE said. He noted, however, that ?all is not lost. In the last few years several reforms have been carried out, many things have changed and it is in our hands for the country to move forward faster. There is time for regrouping and regaining lost living standards?.

IOBE's report estimated that economic growth in Greece will reach 2.0 pct this year, exports will grow by 7.0 pct, investments will rise by 13 pct, although public investments are expected to remain subdued for the second year in a row. Household consumption is projected to rise by 0.7 pct despite a decline in unemployment because of more fiscal measures in 2018. Public consumption is expected to rise by 1.5 pct. The unemployment rate is projected to fall to 19.8 pct this year and the inflation rate to reach 0.5 pct in 2018. IOBE said confidence in the banking system was recovering, although at a slow pace.