An agreement between Greece’s privatization fund HRADF and China COSCO Shipping Corporation for the sale of the majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) was signed in Athens. The agreement has been hailed by both Greece and China as creating a win-win situation for all parties.
Under the deal, the Chinese investors will pay 280.5 million euros ($319.79 million) to HRADF for the initial acquisition of a 51 percent stake, while it will pay another 88 million euros within five years for the remaining 16 percent, provided it has implemented the agreed investments in the port.
The agreement was signed by HRADF chief Stergios Pitsiorlas and COSCO Hong Kong CFO Feng Jinhua in the presence of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, China COSCO Shipping Chairman Xu Lirong and Chinese Ambassador to Greece Zou Xiaoli at the office of Greek Prime Minister.
Welcoming Xu at his office, Tsipras said the agreement signing will “cut the ‘Silk Road’ shorter.”
“We want to become a bridge between West and East. To build a reliable cooperation that can guarantee speed and efficiency in the transportation of goods from China to the Mediterranean and Europe”, Tsipras pointed out.
According to the Greek prime minister, the agreement sends a strong message to the global economic community for the recovery of the Greek economy.
“With the agreement there is an important opportunity for the two countries to develop a growth orientation that can benefit both,” Tsipras added.
Addressing distinguished guests after the ceremony at the Zappeion Exhibition Center in Athens, Xu said China COSCO Shipping has always been committed to harmonious development in Greece and a win-win situation for all parties.
In 2015, the container throughput of Piraeus Port increased to 3.36 million TEU from 880,000 TEU in 2010, while the global ranking of Piraeus Port also increased significantly from 93rd to 39th in terms of container capacity.
In addition, COSCO Shipping will not only operate a state-of-the-art port that will connect Asia and Europe trade, but will also create jobs and help invigorate the Greek economy.
“The development of PCT(Piraeus Container Terminal) has improved Piraeus Port’s core facilities, brought more than 1,200 new direct jobs to the people of Greece, increased Greece’s fiscal revenue and boosted demand for ship materials, and promoted the development of the local economy,” he added.
Referring to the provisions of the agreement, the China COSCO Shipping chairman pointed out the strategic benefits provided by China’s Belt and Road Initiative to help Piraeus Port become the Mediterranean’s largest container transit port.
On the Greek part, Greek Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragassakis said these agreements are of strategic nature as they are not temporary, but can generate prospects for the next decades.
Dragassakis hailed the historical strong Sino-Greek ties noting that the agreement opened the road for more investments in the industries of tourism, commerce and culture.
“The investment must be not only economically viable, but to have a positive impact to the society as well,” he said.
Apart from the Chinese imports, Dragassakis stressed that the cooperation can benefit also Greek exports.
“The marine route should and can be bidirectional, not only have imports to Greece and Europe, but also Greek exports to China,” Dragassakis said.
Chinese Ambassador to Greece Zou Xiaoli added that the agreement marked a historic milestone for Sino-Greek friendship and relationships at multiple levels.
“China and Greece, two ancient nations, are once again presented with the opportunity to promote human civilizations side by side,”Zou said.
The Chinese ambassador added that there was great potential for bilateral cooperation in underwater archaeology, cultural heritage restoration, film, press, publication and cultural industry among other fields.
For the advantages of the agreement talked also the mayor of Perama, the city where Cosco is located at the extreme western end of the port of Piraeus. “This investment will benefit both the local economy and national economy. It will have positive impact in the unemployment rates and in Greece’s prosperity,” Yannis Lagoudakis, mayor of Perama city, told Xinhua.
Since 2009, COSCO Shipping’s subsidiary PCT has been operating Piers II and III at Piraeus port under a 35-year concession agreement posting remarkable results, while PPA was running Pier I until today.
COSCO Shipping’s vision to turn Piraeus into a leading international transit hub for products and services from Asia to Europe has already attracted other major multinationals to the port which are cooperating with PCT to distribute their products in the region.