ECONOMY

Work gets started on new Piraeus terminal

Work on the further expansion of the port of Piraeus through the creation of the new Western Terminal III officially got under way on Thursday in the presence of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Chinese Ambassador Zou Xiaoli, who conveyed a message from Premier Li Keqiang.

The project concerns a 230-million-euro investment that is expected to increase the annual container-handling capacity of Piraeus Container Terminal – the local subsidiary of Chinese giant Cosco – from 3.7 million to 6.2 million units per year.

Chinese Premier Li said in his message that the new investment in Piraeus will constitute a springboard for the further tightening of economic relations between China and Greece. “Through the cooperation with China, Piraeus will be able to evolve into the top port in the Mediterranean Sea,” said the Chinese leader.

Samaras highlighted the significant role that privatizations and foreign investors play in strengthening Greece’s economic growth. He also criticized the main opposition SYRIZA party, alleging that it poses a threat to major investments.

The new investment constitutes a point of reference in the friendly arrangement between Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) and PCT, following two years of negotiations and work. The agreement has been approved by the European Commission, the State Audit Council, and OLP’s governing board and its general meeting. It was signed by Merchant Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis and ratified by Parliament about a month ago.

It provides for the new Western Terminal III to start operating from 2021 and will bring OLP annual revenues of 109.3 million euros. This is equal to the port authority’s overall annual takings. According to Varvitsiotis, the value of the new contract between OLP and PCT ranges between 860 million and 1.1 billion euros, against about 550 million when the agreement between the two parties was signed.

In 2014 PCT handled a total of 2.987 million containers at terminals II and III, which it operates, up by 18.5 percent from 2.512 million in 2013, according to data published by Cosco. That means that PCT is currently operating its terminals at 85 percent of their maximum annual capacity.

Meanwhile, a report published by Business Monitor International forecasts that Piraeus port’s rising course will be maintained, mainly as a result of the additional investments, as the local economy remains vulnerable. According to BMI there will be a 17 percent annual increase in container handling in Piraeus this year, on the condition that the country’s gross domestic product expands by 1.2 percent.