Piraeus has established itself as an international cargo transit hub after the signing of an agreement on Friday between US multinational Hewlett Packard and China’s Cosco, operator of the port’s Pier II, for the American electronics firm to use Piraeus as a base from which to ship its products on to Eastern and Central Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
The deal, signed in the presence of Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, will also benefit Greek train service operator TRAINOSE, as it will be play a key role in the transfer of HP goods, while the government also expects the creation of many new jobs and the signing of similar agreements with other major multinational companies. Already among the firms reported to have expressed an interest in a similar agreement are Ikea and Dell, which are waiting for the start of the rail link between Piraeus and Thriasio, inaugurated on Thursday.
Samaras greeted the deal as “a vote of confidence” in Greece, saying that such infrastructure works “release investments.”
Du Qiwen, the Chinese ambassador in Athens, called it “an event of great significance for the businesses involved and the future of Piraeus and of the country, which will bring about growth and long-term development.” He went on to invite more Chinese companies to invest in Greece. US Ambassador Daniel Bennett Smith expressed certainty that the deal will bring more companies to Greece, adding that Piraeus is turning into a key transit center for the region and that this cooperation signals prospects for strengthening the country’s tourism and commercial activity.
“The use of Piraeus will offer the company a significant comparative advantage, as our products will be reaching Europe seven days earlier than if we used other ports,” stated Tony Prophet, HP’s senior vice president for operations. He said the US group had been looking for a new Mediterranean hub for years.
HP’s immediate plans are to have 16,000-20,000 containers per year using Piraeus as their transit hub with a large part of that being carried by rail to Central and Eastern Europe.
TRAINOSE, which by end-March will sign its own deal with HP for transporting its products as far as the Czech Republic, expects revenues of about 10 million euros per year at the start, rapidly rising to 70 million.