China to invest more in Greek shipping
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, reported China Daily.
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 harbour, 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 US$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 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 privatise 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 $64.33 billion.
Introducing the privatisation agenda, Stelios Stavridis, the president of the country's national assets organisation, 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, 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 popularise 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.
Source: Cargonews Asia â€“ 20 May 2013
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