BUSINESS

Making Piraeus Europe’s biggest port

ILIAS BELLOS

TAGS: Privatizations, Business, Economy

Chinese shipping giant Cosco is about to start a dialogue with the Greek government on the terms and conditions that will allow for its investment master plan for Piraeus port to expand from the currently approved 600 million to its full amount of 900 million euros with the construction of a new, fourth container terminal, according to recent talks between the Greek and Chinese state leaders.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s meetings in Shanghai last week and in Athens on Monday also showed that all licensed projects in the Cosco master plan will get under way immediately, starting with the extension of the cruise terminal and the construction of the new passenger terminal whose concession process and funding scheme have already been completed.

The meetings have also made it clear that Beijing and Athens see eye to eye on making Piraeus the biggest port in Europe. After Xi wrote in an article for Kathimerini that the port of Piraeus is the “head of the dragon,” he and Mitsotakis visited Cosco’s installations together in Piraeus on Monday.

A few hours earlier in Athens, Shipping Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis and Cosco Chairman Xu Lirong signed an agreement highlighting the will of the two sides to overcome any obstacles so that the Cosco master plan in Piraeus is implemented, as this is a top priority for the Chinese side.

At the same time the vice chairman of the European Investment Bank, Andrew McDowell, the director of Cosco subsidiary Piraeus Port Authority, Thanassis Liagos, and the chairman of the Export-Import Bank of China, Xu Xiaolian, signed another agreement, regarding the financing of Cosco’s investment plan, amounting at first to 100 million euros plus another 40 million at a later stage.

A week earlier, Mitsotakis had started the discussion in Shanghai about the offsetting measures by Cosco for the local population in Piraeus and the other municipalities next to the port in order to eliminate any reservations and objections and ensure that the 300-million-euro fourth container terminal enjoys wide approval. The fourth terminal is set to raise the capacity of Piraeus port from 7 million containers handled per annum, projected for 2021, to 10 million.

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