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Greece's largest port Piraeus and its operator, China's Cosco Shipping have teamed up with the operator of Shanghai port, the world’s largest container port, to promote container shipping traffic and create synergies to boost trade and new business opportunities.

 

Piraeus Port Authority (PPA), Cosco and Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) have agreed to cooperate in project planning, staff training and information exchange. "The agreement means huge quantities of goods will be transported to Piraeus from Shanghai," said deputy Economy and Development minister, Stergios Pitsiorlas.

The deal was signed by Cosco Shipping Corp head Xu Lirong and SIPG chairman Chen Xuyuan. Their presence in Greece highlights the significance of Piraeus for Beijing’s “Belt and Road” initiative. A second document was signed by Athanasios Liagos, a senior PPA official, and SIPG’s Chen. It concerns cooperation on funding and port works, and on programmes for training, technical assistance and information exchange. It consolidates the joint planning for promotion campaigns “toward strengthening the use of the two ports that could lead to a greater utilisation of cargo handling, trade and business opportunities for both ports,” said the Chinese.

China has been investing heavily in Greece in recent years. Last year Cosco bought a 51% stake in Piraeus port for Euro 280.5m ($314m) under its plan to make Greece a transshipment hub for rapidly growing trade between Asia and Eastern Europe. It has the option to buy another 16% after five years once it completes mandatory investments of Euro 300m upgrading infrastructure.

Cosco has been managing two of the port's container terminals since 2009 and has helped Piraeus shoot up the world rankings of container ports to 44th biggest in 2015 from 93rd in 2010. Piraeus had a throughput of 3.750m teus in 2016 and expects to exceed 4m teu this year and 5m in 2018. It also aims to increase cruise traffic from 1m passengers a year to 1.5m in the short term and 3m longer term.

Under China's plan to generate economic prosperity by developing a new Silk Road for international trade, China and Greece agreed last month to boost cooperation in infrastructure, energy and telecommunications.

Meanwhile, parliament speaker Nikos Voutsis says Greece is working consistently promoting strategic cooperation between the EU and China for the benefits of the two sides. Voutsis said this when he met Han Zheng, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and secretary of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee who was a member of the visiting Chinese party. “The Greek Parliament contributes efficiently in the implementation of the agreements established between our two countries, agreements that over the past 10 years have become more and more frequent and significant," Voutsis told Han.

Filed: 2017-06-13