Since China’s Cosco Shipping Group acquired a majority stake in PPA (Piraeus Port Authority) in 2016, container traffic through Greece’s major port has grown at a steady rate.
Long considered the success story of Greece’s lagging privatization program, PPA is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange and consistently reports profits.
A transshipment hub for the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, Piraeus handled 5.65 million twenty-foot containers in 2019, a 15.1% increase over the previous year.
First-half results this year showed a better than expected outcome, given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Turnover fell 5.8% to €66.5 million, mainly due to reduced earnings from handling cruise vessels, a drop in domestic ferry traffic and in throughput at the car terminal.
The port is an important link in China’s ambitious “Belt and Road” program of infrastructure projects linking Asia with northern Europe.
Cosco is due to increase its stake in PPA from 51% to 67% in mid-2021.
But after presenting nine different versions of a master plan for the further upgrading of Piraeus port, the Chinese port operator is still at odds with ESAL, the Greek port development authority, over a projected €600 million investment program.
The matter raises eyebrows as Greece urgently seeks foreign investment, especially in the midst of the pandemic crisis.
So what holds back a multi -million- euro investment of such great importance?
Does the decision of the Greek government to drop Huawei equipment for its 5G network show a change of heart about the future role of China in Greece?
Kerin Hope reports on the plans laid out by Cosco, the reactions they meet by local authorities and the local business community, the fury of the shipyards in Perama.
You can read the entire article in the the Greek Business File November-December 2020 issue