OPINION

From the US to China, and Greece’s interests

from-the-us-to-china-and-greece-s-interests

The pandemic has changed a lot in the world around us. Societies were tested, economies collapsed, alliances were shaken.

The “day after” will include changes to the geopolitical chessboard, a result of economic reshuffling. It is now clear that, in the medium-term, there will be a global face-off between the United States and China.

Tensions between the world’s two largest economies have been escalating for years and everything points to a protraction; and the change in the US leadership will not fundamentally change that. Joe Biden stated that he will not have the same attitude as his predecessor towards China; he noted that he does not seek conflict, but also made it clear that he expects “extreme competition.” 

Beijing is clearly the counterweight to the US in terms of competitiveness, production infrastructure and economic size. China is making inroads in Europe on many fronts, and Cosco’s investment in the port of Piraeus should be seen in this context.

Greece, beyond its participation in the European Union, is strategically investing, alongside Cyprus, in cooperative endeavors with Israel, Egypt and other Arab states. At the same time, it looks to the stabilizing role of America, especially with the White House’s experienced new occupant who, having served eight years as vice president and 36 as senator, many of those on the Foreign Relations Committee, has a firm grasp of the Eastern Mediterranean conundrum.

When it comes to economics and trade, important investments in Greece will be decided based on commercial merits, but wider national advantages are also part of the equation. Athens is attempting to attract significant foreign investment – western, Israeli, Chinese, Arab – without wavering on its commitment to the Euro-Atlantic partnership.

There are many opportunities in Greece. The most prominent example are the country’s ports, and not just Piraeus. There are many others with suitors from many important players of this geopolitical and economic competition, from the US and China, to Russia, Italy, Germany and Israel. Many companies from these countries are contending for Greek ports: from Alexandroupoli in the north to Crete’s Iraklio in the south and from Igoumenitsa and Astakos in the west to Volos and Kavala in the east.

Some of Greece’s airports are also drawing interest, as are numerous other sectors of the economy, especially in digital technology.

Greece is facing existential threats in its region. Hence, its economic decisions will naturally be affected by the level of understanding and material support provided by potential partners in its efforts to effectively deal with them.