Japanese Ambassador to Greece Yasuhiro Shimizu paid a visit to the Alexandroupolis Port Authority to express his country's interest in the northern Greek port's privatization and investments, particularly in the fields of energy and railways.
Ambassador Shimizu was accompanied by a delegation of businessmen including representatives of Hitachi, which is currently constructing the Thessaloniki metro system.
Pointing out that the business environment in Greece has space for improvement, he said that the business environment was "excellent under the new government" and expressed the hope that reforms will continue.
"As the privatization of the port of Alexandroupolis is drawing nearer, it is important that I find myself here, accompanied by associates and representatives of Japanese companies located in Athens, Thessaloniki and Istanbul," Shimizu said, of the port, which is being turned into a major energy hub in the East Mediterranean through LNG trade, among other projects.
Besides the privatization, Japan is interested in "other activities related to the privatization," namely, energy, transportation, shipping and the linking of the port with the railway network, he said.
"Following the meeting and briefing we had with the port authority's management, we are moving ahead with the drafting of a business plan," said Shimizu.
Port Authority President Konstantinos Chatzimichail said during the meeting "the geostrategic role of the Alexandroupolis port was highlighted as both a natural end of the Suez Canal and as a secure economic and military gateway to the Balkans and eastern Europe."
"In this context, we discussed a series of issues that Japanese companies could be involved in, in three areas: port, energy and a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) and railway, three major projects which are interconnected and make our area very attractive," he explained.
Chatzimichail also mentioned the "transformation of the region into an international energy hub, responsible for Europe's energy supply and potential independence from Russian natural gas," and the projects of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector (IGB) and the EU's cluster PCI projects in the area. He added that Gastrade consortium's decision on FSRU construction investment is expected in summer 2020.
Calling the talks with the Japanese delegation "very useful," he said, "we will not be surprised if in the near future they express a real interest in projects already in development."