Greece’s potential to become an international trade hub remains untapped, as despite the spectacular performance of the port of Piraeus in recent years in terms of container transit, and to a lesser extent the port of Thessaloniki, there is a shortage of infrastructure for combined transport, such as major highways and a modern rail network, according to a study published yesterday.
The Center of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE) also found that the liberalization of the freight truck sector attempted with the opening up of closed-shop professions in 2010 has not fetched the desired results.
KEPE’s study showed that the Piraeus container terminal, managed by China’s Cosco, enjoyed 336 percent growth in traffic from 2010 to 2014, against an increase of 117 percent in the same period at the Belgian port of Antwerp and an average growth rate of 39 percent for Cosco-operated ports.
However, KEPE stresses that this increase at Piraeus mostly concerns cargo redirected by sea to other ports rather than via the land transport network to the Greek mainland and the rest of Europe, which would have considerably greater multiplier effects on the domestic economy.
KEPE estimates that a 1-million-euro increase in demand for services related to land transport would have multiplier effect of 3.25 for the Greek economy, while the equivalent rate for maritime transport is 2.4. Notably, the development of the vertical land route linking Patra with Athens and Thessaloniki, stretching up to the country’s northern border could save up to 10 days in the time it takes to forward cargo from the Far East to Central Europe.
The study also highlights the particularly uneven distribution of cargo in Greece, with freight trucks monopolizing the market, accounting for 98.7 percent, while the average rate in the rest of the European Union stands at 75.1 percent. Rail transport accounts for just 1.3 percent, down from 2.5 percent in 2005.