BEIJING – Greece and China strengthened their close financial relations yesterday with the signing of a memorandum for bilateral economic cooperation during Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis’s visit to the Chinese capital and ahead of the prime minister’s official visit here in mid-January. Stylianidis, whose portfolio includes international financial relations, signed the memorandum with Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Yu Guangzhou and had meetings with other high-level Chinese officials. The officials focused on issues such as certifying the unhindered promotion of products from each country in the other’s market, exploring at least the partial manufacturing of Chinese products in Greece (which would facilitate their entry in the European market), and turning Greek ports into transit centers for the promotion of Chinese products in the region. The leaders also discussed the construction of Greek ships in China and the shipping of Chinese cargo with Greek vessels, encouraging tourists to visit Greece (in 2008 some 100 million Chinese tourists are expected to visit Europe), the conditional allocation of visas to Chinese people wishing to study in British university franchises operating in Greece, and the promotion of traditional Greek products such as olive oil, wine and cheese products in the Chinese market The two sides expect a further development in bilateral trade now that the double-taxation avoidance agreement has been signed. The deal for the export of 60,000 tons of Greek phosphoric fertilizers to China is also in the pipeline. On Monday, Stylianidis addressed a Greek-Chinese business conference. Also, there were more than 500 meetings between entrepreneurs from the two countries. Trade between Greece and China is developing rapidly, but the balance has a massive deficit for Greece and will worsen further. In 2004 Greek exports reached $72.7 million against Chinese exports of $1,757.6 million. Still, Greek entrepreneurs’ presence in China is notable: By the end of 2004, 49 investments had been realized, reaching a total of about $140 million.