Greece, China discuss ports

Greece and China confirmed yesterday their wishes to enhance their cooperation on shipping and transport issues, while major companies from China, South Korea and Dubai are interested in investing in Greek ports. Chinese Communications Minister Li Shenglin, responsible for transport and shipping, and Greek Minister of Transport Michalis Liapis signed a memorandum of cooperation on Euro-Asian connections and shipping, as proposed by Liapis during his visit to Beijing last week. The agreement provides for the development and planning of transport infrastructures linking the two countries, the creation of goods warehouses and integrated transport systems, and the simplification of customs procedures. Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis also met with Li yesterday and confirmed the two countries’ intention of cooperating in ports and shipping, in keeping with the initiatives of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on his recent trip to China. Regarding foreign companies’ interest in Greek ports, mainly in Piraeus and Thessaloniki, shipping sources told Kathimerini that this is the fruit of the policy followed by the Merchant Marine Ministry, and Kefaloyiannis in particular. They added that Li’s visit highlights China’s interest in more docks for loading and unloading containers, as well as for spaces in Piraeus for assembling products to be later transported to Central Europe. The same sources argue that the Chinese are interested in the Thessaloniki port. Further interest for investment in ports has come from Dubai Ports World, from Danish firm Maersk and from the South Koreans who have signed a cooperation memorandum for developing the Cretan port of Tymbaki. «We are negotiating not only with Chinese companies, but also with other major transit players for the ports of Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Tymbaki. We are also expecting more investors related to tourism for the ports of Corfu, Patras and Igoumenitsa,» said Kefaloyiannis, adding that late this month a group from Qatar will come to investigate possible cooperation in tourism and the development of marinas on the Ionian Islands.