Businesses look forward to visit
Greek business leaders and politicians look forward to Premier Li Keqiang’s endorsement of further Chinese business and trade activity in their country, citing COSCO’s operations in Athens as a jobcreating success story.
They said Li will discuss with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras the Chinese business’s participation in privatization plans for Piraeus Port, adding that they believe COSCO’s track record would make it the ideal winner of the project.
COSCO is among the shortlisted qualified international bidders who are seeking to purchase a 67 percent stake in Piraeus Port.
George Gratsos, president of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, said he supported COSCO’s investment in Piraeus as early as 2003, when discussions began.
“We’re happy that COSCO investment has finally materialized, and we support COSCO’s expanding its presence in Piraeus because its operation has proved to be a success,” he said.
Using Greece as a shipping gateway also means Chinese exporters will be able to avoid European Union import duties, and Greece will get more jobs, he said.
Gratsos said both Chinese and Greek leaders should aim higher.
“I think Athens has the advantages to become the next Hong Kong if both sides boost it as a global shipping and commercial center by using each other’s strengths.”
Theodoros Fessas, chairman of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises, said China will definitely continue its overseas investment and business expansion, and Greece should be a hub that links China and the European market.
“China’s entrance into Europe needs multifunction hubs, and Greece should be one of the options,” Fessas said.
Christos Vlachos, a managing partner of Silky Finance, a consultancy in Athens, said COSCO has become a successful story by turning a slow-moving and moneylosing port into a busy terminal with many jobs.
“This can be copied in other sectors in Greek privatization plans,” he said.