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Chinese Shipping Giant Exploring Opportunities in Greece
2010-05-23
Brief:Leading Chinese shipping giant China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO) is exploring more investment opportunities in Greece after successfully winning a container operation project at the Greek port of Piraeus.

Leading Chinese shipping giant China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO) is exploring more investment opportunities in Greece after successfully winning a container operation project at the Greek port of Piraeus, COSCO President and CEO captain Wei Jiafu said.

Wei, whose company recently signed an agreement with the Greek Piraeus Port Authority on operating the Piraeus container terminals, said his trip is to examine the future of COSCO's investment in the biggest port of Greece and more opportunities for Chinese investments across the country.

COSCO's investment in Piraeus is part of the group's overseas strategy, he explained, noting that his company weighed the advantages of investing in the Greek port during a series of discussions with the previous Greek government.

Piraeus is linked with three continents -- Asia, Europe and Africa, and China and Greece have traditional friendly ties, so Greece was seen as a good environment for COSCO to set up this plan, said Wei.

Since COSCO took over the operation of container business at Pier II of Piraeus port, the cargo volume immediately increased, he stressed.

Wei explained that due to the small size of the Greek economy, cargo volume in Piraeus used to be very low but COSCO managed to attract more customers by launching direct services from China to Piraeus.

As a result, from October to December 2009 the container movement volume increased by 25 percent compared with the same period in the previous year. From January to April 2010, the volume increased by 43 percent compared with the same period last year, despite the economic crisis that has hit Greece, Wei noted.

Wei strongly believes in closer cooperation with his Greek partners. He said he seeks stronger collaboration with the Piraeus Port Authority, which runs Pier I at the port and is the only local competitor for COSCO.

He is pleased with the development of relations with Greek ship owners who initially worried about strong competition from COSCO. He successfully convinced them that cooperation is the key to success and will benefit all parties.

Referring to the Chinese saying "Phoenix never comes before the nest is built," Wei said COSCO's task in Greece is to build a nest to attract more Chinese investors to link the Mediterranean with southeast Asia.

Upon his return to China, Wei intends to ask the Ministry of Commerce for "support to create a new good distribution center for Chinese goods in Greece and more investments in the country, based on a win-win principle," he said.


Xinhua
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