BUSINESS

Final touches being put to broad economic agreement with China

ILIAS BELLOS

TAGS: Economy

Talks between Athens and Beijing over an extensive long-term economic cooperation agreement are at an advanced stage.

The pact, which is expected to include not only a number of specific investment initiatives but also a financing mechanism, is scheduled to be signed during the Forum for International Cooperation, in the context of the One Belt One Road Initiative, to take place in Beijing on May 14-15.

The agreement is being prepared by Deputy Economy Minister Stergios Pitsiorlas in cooperation with the Prime Minister’s Office, along with the Chinese Embassy in Athens. According to available information, the deal will have a three-year horizon and its potential value is in the billions.

Among the projects seen to be of common interest is the creation of a funding mechanism, a major cooperation for the participation of a large Chinese group in an investment in a Greek tourism complex, a key project in the telecommunications sector, and energy, port and shipping activity.

The corporations involved on both sides have already advanced in their contacts, of which the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) and the Greek-Chinese Economic Council are also aware. The council is playing a coordinating role in the collection, processing and promotion of proposals for investment projects of mutual interest. Sources say that more than 10 such business plans have already been evaluated and put forward for ratification.

Athens is looking forward to an immediate increase in Chinese direct investments in Greece and attributes great significance to the contacts to be made in Beijing this month, in the presence also of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

The Belt and Road Forum, which will include the participation of several heads of state hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, will also feature similar pacts between China and other countries. At least 28 heads of state have already said they will attend the forum, and work will focus on the coordination of policies, the development of infrastructures, the promotion of trade and economic cooperation.

Among the confirmed participants are the presidents of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, plus the leaders of countries such as Italy, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Kazakhstan, Hungary and Serbia, among others.

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