Chinese investors set sights on Greek property
Updated: 2013-03-30 08:10
By Zhou Siyu (China Daily)
The property price slump in Greece, fueled by the ongoing financial crisis, has started to attract Chinese investment.
"Some Chinese businessmen have shown an interest in investing in Greek property, such as investing in hotels, or buying pieces of land on Greek islands," the Mayor of Athens, Georgios Kaminis, said on Friday.
Property, mainly residential apartments, accounts for about 80 percent of household wealth in Greece. Prices tumbled 28 percent from their peak in 2008 when the country's economic contraction set in, according to data from the Greek central bank.
"Greek property prices are at the bottom of the economic cycle. Now will be a great time to invest," Kaminis added.
He made the remarks while heading a business delegation on a visit to Beijing, where he will sign an agreement with the Beijing municipal government to promote cooperation in a number of sectors, including real estate, agriculture and tourism.
Kaminis said agriculture is a key sector for bilateral trade, as exports of agricultural products from Greece to China have been growing steadily over the past few years, although the quantity is still very small.
"We are very optimistic about future increases," he said.
Some Chinese companies, on meeting their Greek counterparts on the tour, expressed an interest in buying Greek farming products. Beijing Grain Group Co Ltd said it is considering importing olive oil from the country.
The company's deputy general manager, Wang Zhigang, said: "We currently import olive oil mainly from countries such as Spain and Israel. This is our first contact with Greek companies and, given the right quality and price, we are considering further cooperation with them."
Meanwhile, Greek companies are trying to tap into China's market, as rising disposable income and a growing population has turned China into one of the largest food and beverage consumers in the world.
Themis Mavroeidis, brand ambassador of a Greek wine industry organization, Coop Wines of Greece, who has lived in China for five years, said Chinese consumers are becoming familiar with Greek wine.
"Sales have been increasing steadily over the past few years, and we found the younger generation (those younger than 40) of Chinese drinkers are familiar with the wine culture. They are getting used to the distinctive flavor of Greek wines."
Kaminis said tourism is another sector where the two cities, as well as both countries, can strengthen cooperation.
According to industry data, 2.5 million Chinese tourists visit Europe every year, but the number of these visitors to Greece stands at 50,000.
"For us, this percentage is still too small, and we expect to see more Chinese tourists in Athens and in Greece as a whole," Kaminis added.