Greece-China cooperation will become a highway
The 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Greece and China coincides with an acceleration of cooperation between the two countries.
Besides their economic cooperation, another important recent example is the joint study program “Greek and Chinese Civilizations: A Comparative Approach”, which the Greek University of Patras in the Peloponnese and the University of Southwest China in Chongqing launch in 2022-23.
Relations between the two peoples are not new. They are deeply rooted in a common respect for each other’s cultural heritage and mutual recognition of each country’s historical journey. Above all, our peoples are the modern representatives of two ancient civilizations: Greece, the cradle of Western civilization, and China, the cradle of Eastern civilization.
In addition to historical and cultural ties, Greece and China have developed close economic cooperation over the years, especially after 2006 when they signed their Integrated Strategic Partnership Agreement, which raised bilateral relations from the level of constructive engagement to that of strategic partnership. It turned out to be a mutually beneficial situation. On the one hand, the agreement facilitated Chinese investments in Greece, which proved to be remarkably profitable, and on the other hand, the Greek economy benefited from it in many ways.
The flagship project of Greek-Chinese cooperation is undoubtedly the investment of China Ocean Shipping Co, or COSCO, in the port of Piraeus. While others adopted a “wait-and-see” policy, it was COSCO that trusted in the value of the port, a strategically located Mediterranean port that connects Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
The results are remarkable and exceed the most optimistic forecasts. By 2021, COSCO had invested over €1 billion ($1.07 billion), creating 3,000 direct jobs and over 10,000 jobs in related services. The port of Piraeus is today the leading port in the Mediterranean in terms of container transport, the fifth in the European Union and the 29th in the world. Of course, Greece welcomes COSCO’s target of achieving a container throughput of 10 million TEU, or twenty-foot equivalent, almost double its current performance, which would make Piraeus the logistics hub largest and most efficient in Central and Eastern Europe.
Another example of successful bilateral cooperation is ADMIE (IPTO), the Greek electricity grid operator. Chinese company State Grid Corp is a strategic investor in ADMIE, with a 24% stake, and has an active interest in acquiring up to 20% of the shares of Ariadne Interconnection, the IPTO special purpose vehicle that puts implement the Crete-Attica interconnection project.
Maritime transport is of course the crown jewel in bilateral economic relations, as Greek ships, many of which were built in Chinese shipyards, transport Chinese products around the world, contributing to the boom in international trade. over the past decades.
Banking is another promising sector within the framework of bilateral cooperation. Bank of China has established a branch in Athens, the first branch of a Chinese bank in Greece, with the aim of supporting the development of Greek companies in the Chinese market and helping Chinese companies to invest in Greece.
There is no doubt that during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the momentum of cooperation has inevitably been affected. However, despite the headwinds facing the global economy, such as the sharp rise in commodity prices, supply chain bottlenecks and uncertainty due to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, I strongly convinced that bilateral cooperation can regain momentum, deepen and expand into new areas.
In this volatile international environment, Greece shines as a beacon of stability, highlighting significant advantages for potential investors: a favorable macroeconomic and political environment, a purely pro-business government, Greece’s membership of the Eurozone and its strategic alliances, the growing geopolitical value of the region, the combined amounts of EU Recovery and Resilience Facility and Structural Funds, and the bold and ongoing program of public-private partnerships and privatization.
The Greek economy offers unique opportunities for high return on investment in many areas such as infrastructure, tourism, real estate, renewable energy, agribusiness, information technology and logistics. In addition, Chinese investors may consider Greece in the broader economic framework as the entry point to Central and Eastern European countries, an important regional market.
Therefore, as the coordinator of the Greek government in the Sino-Greek committee for the further development of bilateral relations, I can assure everyone that our administration is very eager to welcome more Chinese investment in Greece. We have high expectations for the future of our relationship, and we aim to approach our economic cooperation as a road that can become a highway.
Source: China Daily