ECONOMY

Chinese eye Crete’s ports

Representatives of China Shipping Group, the world’s biggest shipping conglomerate, yesterday began a visit to Crete to examine the development potential of the port of Iraklion and the island’s other harbors. The visiting group, headed by CSG President Li Ke Lin, who is also the vice president of China Shipping Container Lines, will also study areas in southern Crete (Ierapetra and Tymbaki), where infrastructure for commercial ports could be developed so that a new transport center may be created. CSG’s ventures include terminal management and financial investments. Greek ports, say Merchant Marine Ministry sources, by making the most of funding for development and infrastructure provided by the European Investment Bank, reaching 3 billion euros, could turn into the biggest transport centers in the eastern Mediterranean and serve ships carrying goods to the broader region. «Our country’s geographical position at the center of the Mediterranean, on the way to the Black Sea and to Southeastern Europe and North Africa, gives it a considerable advantage as an important base for transporting goods. Greek ports (such as Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Crete, among others) can provide great margins for saving resources (time and money) to major transport companies,» the same sources claimed. As 80 percent of the world’s trade is conducted by maritime transport, investments in Greek ports along with parallel development of the trans-European sea transport networks and the existing road and railway networks, create considerable prospects. «The ministry’s policy for the development of ports is realized on solid ground, while the groundwork is laid for the full use of opportunities offered in developing maritime routes and trans-European transport networks,» Kathimerini was told. The same sources noted China’s great interest in the SE Europe market. Cooperation by Greek and Chinese companies could really help Greek entrepreneurs make exports into the Balkans and the Black Sea, while those firms’ commercial network in China offers immense growth potential in that country and its region. During Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis’s visit to China there were also discussions with Chinese companies for the development of Greek ports.