The port of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest, is evolving into a key gateway for the entire Balkan peninsula’s supply chain, while constantly becoming a more important part of China’s maritime trade plans.
More imports are arriving at Thessaloniki port before heading to North Macedonia. These include healthcare supplies to combat the Covid-19 epidemic. Last Friday a train with 30 containers destined for industries in North Macedonia left from Thessaloniki port.
That service was conducted by Trainose, the Greek subsidiary of Italy’s Ferrovie dello Stato, while more cargo trains are set to head to Greece’s northern neighbor over the coming days and weeks as, despite the particularly difficult situation, Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH) has secured the unhindered operation of the port’s trade traffic.
The port’s management notes that “this constitutes a significant development in maintaining the continued operation of the supply chain services via the port of Thessaloniki, which has a leading role as the Balkans gateway that serves a broad region of more than 25 million people.”
The railway link between Thessaloniki port and Skopje forms part of a greater strategy: It is one of the sections of the network whose creation is associated with the development of a strategic presence of cooperations and supplementary investments in the broader region, including the countries of Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Serbia and Romania.
Meanwhile, one of the three stakeholders of the consortium that has acquired OLTH is heading for Chinese ownership: Port sources say Terminal Link, the owner of 33 percent of OLTH’s main stakeholder, South Europe Gateway Thessaloniki, is set to come under the control of Chinese interests.
Terminal Link is a consortium of French container shipping company CMA CGM and China Merchants Port Holdings. A few days ago Terminal Link bought out all of CMA’s port holdings that were not already under its umbrella, and sources say the next step will be the acquisition of the entire stake of CMA in Terminal Link by China Merchants, as the French firm strives to enhance its liquidity.