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China's Piraeus moves eyed in India

DNA Indian news agency is featuring a detailed article on the strategic moves by the Chinese for the port of Piraeus and notes that it represents a remarkable recovery thanks to the Chinese companies operating or expected to act with it as their base.

The article refers to the Chinese involvement noting that “five years ago global shipping carrier Cosco, a Chinese State company, acquired the management rights of half of the port, after which business activity at Piraeus has tripled.” The Chinese have already made a corresponding move for the port of Thessaloniki (another strategic venue).

Besides the $647 million that Greece received in return for leasing out half of the port of Piraeus to Chinese hands, the Greek government is also earning – in fact more income — from taxes as a result of the port’s pickup in business. Cosco’s operation is providing around 1,000 jobs to Greek workers — compared with the 800 or so who work in the Greek managed part of the dock. On Cosco’s portion of the port, cargo traffic has more than doubled over the last year, to 1.05 million containers.

The other significant aspect of the situation is the geostrategic position of Greece. It is such that there is now possibility of development in the area of logistics around the port. Greek economic crisis has now helped focus attention on the potential benefits of being a regional transport hub in the way the Netherlands is in northern Europe. Logistical considerations suggest the possibility and importance of making Greece a transit route for goods. 

Think of the potential for rail network. With the 2013 agreement with the California-based HP, the Piraeus Container Terminal SA will move goods manufactured in Asia into Europe. This is possible as the government has completed a long-delayed 17 km link from the port to the national rail network. Logistical considerations also point to Piraeus’s potential to become a bigger trade gateway on the condition that there is further development of the Greek railway network and greater synchronisation of port and rail links in the country, highways, and regional airports. 

Clearly the re-emergence of Piraeus as a port is due to a significant measure to the fact that Piraeus fits nicely with China’s logistical expansion plan. Last Tuesday, China’s state-owned Xinhua News Agency unveiled a series, “New Silk Road, New Dreams.” The first article was titled, “How Can the World Be Win-Win? China Is Answering the Question”. Apparently the “New Silk Road” and “New Maritime Silk Road” will be the answers.