Cooperation between Greece and China on shipping finance is set to receive a boost, after a conference held at the major Greek port of Piraeus.
The Export-Import Bank of China (EXIMBANK) and Greek shipowners discussed the issue within the framework of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for global infrastructure development at the conference co-organized by the Association of Banking and Financial Executives of the Hellenic Shipping (ABFEHS) and the Chinese embassy in Greece.
“Greece is a platform of safe investments for the seagoing trade,” and “it is open for both financial institutions and private investors,” ABFEHS President George Xiradakis said in his welcome address.
Greek shipping offers attractive opportunities for ship financiers, as the Greek-owned fleet is continuously growing, he said.
Chinese leasing finance in shipping has grown from 47 billion U.S. dollars in 2017 to 77 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, and Chinese banks, including EXIMBANK, have established strong ties with Greek shipping, he underlined.
The 10th anniversary of the BRI is an ideal time to strengthen friendship, cooperation and development, EXIMBANK President Ren Shengjun said, adding that the bank strongly supports maritime cooperation and the modern maritime Silk Road, and Greece is already one of its most important markets for shipping finance in Europe.
In a climate of uncertainty due to geopolitical tensions, it is important to build strong economic and political ties between Europe and China, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Greece Theodore Pelagidis said at the conference.
Greece was the first European country to embrace the BRI, and China’s COSCO Shipping investment in Piraeus has turned Greece’s largest port to a competitive one, Pelagidis said.
The port of Piraeus serves as a model of Greece-China cooperation, said Chinese Ambassador to Greece Xiao Junzheng. China hopes that it will be part of the integrated development of ports, industries and cities, transforming itself from a loading and unloading port to a “logistics park” and even an “industrial park,” he added.
The shipping industry is undergoing a huge transition, with the role of finance in supporting and promoting shipping becoming even more significant, the ambassador said.
The focus should be on promoting the transition from shipping finance to supply chains finance, strengthening financial support for the intelligent and green development of shipping, and supporting the exchanges between the Chinese and Greek shipping finance sectors, he underlined.
“We now live in the age of cooperation, and the sooner everybody understands that, the better will be for the world, for people, for prosperity,” said Greek shipowner George Prokopiou, president of the Yacht Club of Greece which hosted the conference.