Greek PM hails 'new chapter' of economic cooperation with China

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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrives in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 2, 2019, to attend the second China International Import Expo (CIIE). [Photo/Xinhua]

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday hailed the vibrant economic cooperation between China and his country, saying the cooperation is heading towards a new chapter.

"We are absolutely confident that we're heading towards a new chapter, a very promising chapter in the Greek-Chinese economic cooperation," said the prime minister while addressing a forum ahead of the opening of the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai on Tuesday.

"China and Greece share a very long history of cultural and business ties, and their cooperation has the potential to develop further in a number of areas of mutual interests," he said.

Mitsotakis said he would have the pleasure of visiting the headquarters of China COSCO Shipping after the forum.

According to the prime minister, COSCO's investment in the Greek Port of Piraeus is an example of how Chinese investors were bold enough to invest in the basic infrastructure of Greece at a time when it was considered "uninvestable" by many other countries.

In 2016, COSCO Shipping acquired a majority stake in the then struggling Piraeus port. The Chinese company's subsidiary has started managing the port's container terminals since 2009, helping to promote the port's container throughput from 880,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in 2010 to 4.9 million TEUs in 2018, ranking second among all Mediterranean ports.

The turnover of Piraeus Port amounted to 70.6 million euros (77 million U.S. dollars) in the first half of 2019. The port has created more than 10,000 jobs, and paid a total salary of 250 million euros, Wang Haimin, vice general manager of COSCO, told the forum.

Mitsotakis said his government has approved a master plan with additional investments exceeding 600 million euros in the port of Piraeus, and there is significant potential to reach the one billion mark.

The prime minister said his government is interested in expanding economic, trade, investment relations with China, taking into consideration the complementary but also comparative advantages of Greek and Chinese economies.

Chinese capital investments will be welcomed and Chinese investors will find great opportunities in Greece, he said.

According to Mitsotakis, Chinese investments have so far been directed to infrastructure, energy and real estate, and great potential exists in other sectors, such as renewable energy, information and communication technology, logistics, health care, agriculture and tourism.

The prime minister hopes that his country would have a bigger share of the overseas Chinese tourists, and it aims to bring in 500,000 Chinese tourists by 2021.

The Greek leader, whose country is one of the guest countries of honor at this year's CIIE, is leading a business delegation of 68 companies representing the most dynamic sectors of the Greek economy to the import expo. (1 euro = 1.12 U.S. dollar)

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