Hewlett-Packard picks Piraeus as transit center

By Nikos Bardounias and Alexandra Kassimi

The Development Ministry confirmed on Wednesday the provisional agreement recently signed between Cosco and Hewlett-Packard (HP) for the use of Dock II in Piraeus, which appears to be a very promising deal that bodes well for other investments, too.

American IT firm HP has chosen Piraeus as the site for its central distribution center for products destined for Central Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, the Mediterranean region and the former Soviet republics, the ministry stated. HP products will be distributed by sea from the terminal that Cosco controls in Piraeus and by rail via state railway service operator TRAINOSE.

According to the ministry’s announcement, HP’s transport and shipping activity will add up to a total of $50 billion, the bulk of which will now be taken to Piraeus.

Sources add that the high cost of fuel, which has led to a reduction in the speed of ships, has rendered the port of Rotterdam, where the company currently conducts its distribution from, particularly expensive. Kathimerini understands that HP will therefore cut costs and save time this way: “From Piraeus to Rotterdam, the trip used to last six days, but at current speeds due to the cost of fuel it lasts 11. Therefore Piraeus is the most economical and beneficial choice.”

During a meeting on Wednesday between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the ministers of development, Costis Hatzidakis, and merchant marine, Costas Mousouroulis, as well as the president of TRAINOSE, Thanassis Ziliaskopoulos, officials from HP and PCT, the Cosco subsidiary that controls Dock II, reportedly asked for guarantees for the completion of a railway connection between the dock in Piraeus and the port of Ikonio, a few kilometers away from Piraeus’s main port. They also requested that the speedy processing of cargo through customs be safeguarded.

Sources say that the port’s connection by rail with the main network of the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE), which should have been ready this month, will be completed by the end of the year. The first test services will run on December 15 so that the route can be delivered to TRAINOSE for the transport of goods.

Market professionals note that the level of services offered and the productivity at Dock II, managed by PCT, have improved considerably and are now up to international standards. International Maritime Union (IMU) sources stated that PCT has managed to upgrade the port of Piraeus so that it is now able to attract major clients, such as HP. The latter’s decision may well draw other major companies to Greece’s main port as the services offered cover their requirements.

It is estimated that once the final agreement is signed, the local cargo handled in Piraeus could soar by up to 50 percent, while TRAINOSE also stands to reap major benefits as it will carry a considerable share of that load to other European countries.

The government’s aim is to transform Greece into a transit center for the broader region through which cargo to and from the Middle East will pass. It is hoping that other companies will also follow HP’s example and choose Piraeus as a key trafficking point.

“Our country can make it, when its production engine is dynamically modernized, as this significant decision taken by the three partners shows,” Samaras stated after Wednesday’s meeting.