Ahead of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s state visit to Beijing, which starts on Friday, Cosco Shipping has accused the government of overturning fundamental parts of the landmark investment agreement for the sale of a 67 percent majority stake in Piraeus Port (OLP).
The latest snag could jeopardize the deal that has been hailed by officials of both countries and analysts as an important catalyst to kick-start growth in debt-ridden Greece.
In a note to Greece’s privatization agency (TAIPED), the Chinese company said the bill submitted to Parliament on Tuesday for approval was a complete reversal of what was agreed between both sides on April 8, and, it added, these changes are in no way acceptable.
“Cosco expects the government and TAIPED to implement what they signed on to in the presence of the prime minister,” the company said.
Shipping Minister Theodoros Dritsas admitted there were discrepancies, adding that the government had every right to make changes but that it would consider making improvements.
“The government will look into it, it will look into the objections and will probably consider making improvements,” Dritsas told Parliament.
Among the changes cited by the Chinese company was the obligation of the Greek state to approve licensing for projects within a 90-day time frame. Removing this from the bill, the company said, would affect the amount it bids for a project and could also discourage the submission of a bid.
The 368.5-million-euro deal stipulates that Cosco will buy 51 percent of OLP for 280.5 million euros and purchase the remaining 16 percent for 88 million after five years, after having first completed investments worth 350 million euros over the next 10 years.
Parliament had been expected to ratify the deal on Thursday, before Tsipras’s state visit to China.
According to Cosco, another clause removed was one stating that labor laws governing private companies will also apply to OLP.