Strategic observation

Interview: Belt and Road Initiative offers enormous opportunities to all countries involved, says Greek businessman

2017-05-15 10:45:10 (Beijing Time)         English.news.cn

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by Maria Spiliopoulou

ATHENS, May 14 (Xinhua) -- The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative offers enormous opportunities for all the countries involved and Greek business community warmly supports all the efforts to deepen the two countries' cooperation under this context, President of the Greek-Chinese Economic Council Fotis Provatas said recently.

In an interview with Xinhua at an economic forum before the Belt and Road forum opens in Beijing, Provatas said the Greek entrepreneurs are confident that bilateral cooperation under the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road will benefit both nations, the international trade and the world economy.

The Greek-Chinese Economic Council was established seven years ago, as COSCO SHIPPING subsidiary Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT) was taking over the management of a part of Greece's largest port, with the aim to promote the economic ties between Greece and China.

The remarkable results at PCT in recent years have made the council's mission easier, Provatas said, adding the terminal has been expanded and the infrastructure upgraded, while the number of containers passing through Piraeus has quadrupled.

He added that Piraeus is turning into a major transport hub for the products of major multinationals.

COSCO SHIPPING also acquired the majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) in 2016 by presenting an impressive plan for the port's upgrading.

According to the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, the total value of the PPA agreement will amount to 1.5 billion euros (1.6 billion U.S. dollars) when the concession expires in 2052.

The PPA's privatization will help create 125,000 jobs, according to a survey of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research, one of Greek leading think tanks.

At the crossroads of three continents, Piraeus plays a key role in the Belt and Road Initiative that was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, said Provatas.

"We are living in a new era. The Chinese government's policy is steadily progressing ... Greece is about the sea first of all. There are the sun and good people, but mainly the sea. There was no way that the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road from China to Europe would not pass through Greece and Piraeus port," Provatas noted.

The initiative also offers numerous opportunities to strengthen trade and cultural exchanges among all countries involved, the Greek businessman stressed, hailing China's leading role in changing the international economic landscape.

"We believe that the Chinese leadership will proceed with wisdom to tap the opportunities available today to restructure the economic and business relations in the world," he added.

Provatas believes that Greece and Europe will hold a very important role in today's world.

"Today we are in a very good stage. Everybody agrees that Greece and China should move forward. Greek entrepreneurs stand by the side of the Chinese because they know that as long as this port is growing, this will be the best example to attract more Chinese investments to Greece," Provatas said.