China to invest more in Greece
Updated: 2013-05-18 08:03
By Bao Chang (China Daily)
Containers are backlogged at the port of Piraeus, near Athens. China will expand its investment in the port, considered a vital gateway for shipping heading to Europe. AFP
Bilateral trade expected to double by 2015 as economic links tightened
China is to increase its investment in Greece's port industry, and deepen its economic ties with the southern European country as it struggles to clear its massive debts, Vice-Minister of Commerce Jiang Yaoping said on Friday.
Speaking at a China-Greece business forum - being held during a five-day visit by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras - Jiang said China will expand its investment in Greece's Piraeus harbor, the country's largest port.
After operating parts of Piraeus for the past three years, Chinese shipping giant China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co is believed to have invested 1 billion euros ($1.29 billion) for a 60 percent stake in Piraeus port early this year.
Fu Chengqiu, the managing director of Piraeus Container Terminal SACOSCO Group, said on Friday that despite Greece still being in deep crisis, he still considers Piraeus as a vital gateway for shipping heading to Europe.
Samaras said: "Greek infrastructure is open (to investment) and we welcome Chinese enterprises to take part in the operation of some projects."
Samaras also encouraged Chinese companies to invest in his country's logistics services industry, highlighting Greece's good geographical position.
To clear its huge national debt, Greece plans to privatize a variety of government-owned assets, including airports, government buildings, petroleum companies, natural gas fields, and several mining, postal and real estate projects, to raise an estimated 50 billion euros.
Introducing the privatization agenda, Stelios Stavridis, the president of the country's national assets organization, Hellenic Republic Assets Development Fund, said the sell-offs present huge opportunities for Chinese investment.
In a meeting at the Great Hall of the People on Thursday, Premier Li Keqiang told his Greek counterpart Samaras that he expected to see bilateral trade volume double by 2015.
In 2012, total trade between China and Greece was worth $3.38 billion, or 0.6 percent of the total trade volume between China and the European Union.
Constantine Michalos, the president of the Union of Hellenic Chambers, said: "Greek products including olive oil, wine and honey are very popular in the Chinese market and are well tailored to Chinese consumers."
In a move to popularize Greek food and beverage products in China, some Greek enterprises have launched food processing projects in Beijing, said Ma She, deputy director-general at the department of European affairs of the Ministry of Commerce.
(China Daily 05/18/2013 page10)