The development and expansion of the Port of Piraeus, Greece, is set to continue despite the crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Chinese state media.
News outlet Xinhua quoted Greek Shipping and Island Policy Minister Ioannis Plakiotakis, who described the partnership between the Port and COSCO as a “strategic investment” and that it was important to “move forward” with plans.
In addition, Plakiotakis also emphasised that maritime operations at the port and around the country are “returning to normalcy” and that “investments are running smoothly”.
The investments Plakiotakis alludes to is a wide ranging upgrade of the Port’s facilities, including and short-sea shipping.
COSCO’s aim is to turn the Port into Europe’s premier gateway for cargo and tourism, and to that end it will form a key component of China’s New Silk Road, a $1 trillion infrastructure project to transform trade.
It joined COSCO’s portfolio in 2016 and in October 2019 the Greek government approved a US$672.9 million investment plan. In November 2019 the European Investment Bank contributed a loan of $154 million to the project.
That loan represented the largest single investment in a Greek port; it came at the same time as a memorandum of understanding between Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to accelerate trade between China and Greece.
Piraeus was the best performing overseas terminal in COSCO’s 2019 financial results, where year-on-year (YoY) throughput grew by 13%.