A bright future lies ahead for Sino-Greek cooperation in shipping, Chinese and Greek speakers told an event at Greece’s Piraeus port on Tuesday.
“Cooperation between China and Greece came initially from the sea, and its future lies in the sea,” said the president of the Association of Banking and Financial Executives of Hellenic Shipping at the event.
George Xiradakis said that Sino-Greek ties in maritime affairs are “strong and long-lasting,” and have benefited the whole world.
Almost 50 percent of energy resources, and 20 percent of other products and goods imported in China are transported by Greek-owned ships. Many Greek shipowners also build their ships in China, Xiradakis told the event.
Chinese Ambassador to Greece Xiao Junzheng said in his speech that in 2022, China’s shipbuilding completions, new orders and pending orders accounted for 47.3 percent, 55.2 percent, and 49 percent respectively of the global total in terms of deadweight tons. The potential of Sino-Greek shipping cooperation should be tapped even further, he added.
Speakers at the event agreed that China’s COSCO Shipping’s investment has transformed Piraeus port since 2008.
Piraeus today is an integrated international maritime center, and a vital driving force in global supply chains, Xiradakis stressed.
COSCO’s investment has boosted Piraeus to the 5th port in Europe, and 9th internationally in the Xinhua-Baltic Shipping Centers Index (ISCD), said Piraeus’ Vassilis Korkidis.
The president of the company’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which co-organized the event, said: “We haven’t forgotten that when we were between the three austerity measures of the EU memoranda, under capital controls with an uncertain future (during the Greek debt crisis in the period 2009-2018), China trusted Greece (…), respected our history and friendship and invested in our country.”
Both Chinese and Greek investors are committed to continuing the sustainable development of the port as a global shipping center, Korkidis added.
Chinese investment in Piraeus has so far created 3,000 direct jobs, and 10,000 indirect jobs. It has also contributed over one billion euros (1.06 billion U.S. dollars) to the local economy, Xiao told the event.
“China and Greece are important partners in the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative. The two ancient civilizations are learning from each other (…) and there has historically been goodwill between the two countries,” the ambassador said.