China’s COSCO eyes Greek port investments

China’s COSCO Pacific (COSCO), the world’s second-largest shipping company, is keen to invest in Greek ports to take advantage of economic growth in Southeast Europe, its deputy director said yesterday. Greece is seeking strategic investors for its major ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki as part of the government’s privatization plans to bolster investment and make them a regional hub. «We are interested in participating in any port investment opportunities with regard to Greek ports,» Ken Chan, deputy director of COSCO Pacific, told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Thessaloniki. Chan said Greek ports were strategically located and had the potential to be developed into regional hubs. But, he added, nothing had been decided yet and did not provide further details. As trade between China and Europe expands, COSCO is looking for investment opportunities to play a more active role in regional shipping and port business. Since starting container services to Greece in 2004, COSCO more than doubled container volumes to Greek ports through 2006. Based on the first four months of 2007, volume is set to more than double again, Chan told the conference. Greece, with two of the Mediterranean’s largest ports at the southern tip of the Balkans, is ideally placed as a transport hub for goods originating in China and headed for the growing economies of the Balkans and the Black Sea. But this natural advantage may be lost if port infrastructure is not improved. «Greece, especially northern Greece, is situated at a very advantageous location,» Chan said. «However, economic and trade activities might be hindered by the challenge of insufficient infrastructure investment in the region.» It is a problem of which local authorities are aware. Dubai Port Authority recently invested in Turkish ports, including Izmir which could take the lead as the region’s container hub. Trade between China and Europe has increased more than 130-fold from $2.4 billion in 1979 to $330.2 billion in 2006, with the trend set to continue. And in order to meet demand, COSCO will have to find a hub port in the region soon. «Many ports see themselves as hubs,» Chan said, «Time is short, if you don’t invest now, others will beat you.»

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.