Foreign and Military Affairs

Greek minister’s China visit highlights maritime cooperation

Updated: 2011-03-01 17:39

By Matthew Fulco (

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SHANGHAI – Greek Minister for Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Ioannis Diamantidis visited China's financial hub to meet with key policymakers and shipping industry executives from February 25 to 27. He led a delegation of Greek shipping heavyweights aiming to enrich maritime cooperation with China.

Greece and China enjoy a close partnership in shipping transportation and shipbuilding.

Greece is a global leader in shipping, with more than 4,000 ships and 15 percent of the world’s total moving capacity. Shipping is a vital pillar of the Hellenic Republic’s economy, contributing up to 5 percent of overall GDP.

Diamantidis' Shanghai trip followed fruitful meetings in Beijing with top officials that resulted in the signing of a bilateral "action plan" to increase Sino-Greek hub port cooperation and secure funding for the construction of more Greek ships in Chinese shipyards.

Since 2000, Greek ship owners have ordered nearly 500 vessels from China’s shipyards, of which 155 have already been delivered. An additional 325 Greek-owned vessels worth $15 billion are currently under construction in China.

Meanwhile, the Chinese maritime freight group COSCO operates two terminals at Piraeus, Greek’s largest port, situated 10 kilometers from Athens in the East Mediterranean Sea. With its strategic location, the Piraeus port could become a key hub for Chinese goods bound for Europe, said Diamantidis.

During his Shanghai visit, Diamantidis met with Vice Mayor Shen Jun. They discussed how to further enhance Sino-Greek shipping ties so that Piraeus and Shanghai can become the largest ports in Europe and Asia, respectively.

The Greek Maritime Minister also met with leaders of the Shanghai Stock Exchange to discuss the prospects of Greek shipping companies listing in the nation’s financial center.

At Shanghai Maritime University (SMU), Diamantidis stressed the importance of educational cooperation in maritime affairs. Greece and SMU enjoy longstanding ties, as the Greek company Costa Mare funded the construction of one of the university’s major mechanical laboratories.

While in Shanghai, Diamantidis also touched on the evacuation of Chinese nationals from Libya on Greek ships. "The Libya evacuation presents another good example of how the two leading countries in shipping can cooperate successfully," he said, emphasizing that the entire process was coordinated under the personal guidance of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.


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