Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L) shakes hands with Han Zheng, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and secretary of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee during their meeting in Athens, Greece on June 12, 2017. [Marios Lolos/Xinhua]
The Piraeus Port Authority (PPA), together with Chinese giant COSCO Shipping, the majority shareholder of PPA, and the world's largest commercial port of Shanghai signed two Memorandums of Understanding on June 12 in the Greek capital of Athens to boost commercial ties.
The Shanghai International Port Group, which manages 25.7 percent of China's international trading volume, signed the memorandums with COSCO Shipping and PPA in the presence of Han Zheng, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and secretary of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee.
Under the deal, which is within the framework of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, Piraeus will strengthen its strategic position on the world trade map by increasing the incoming cargo from China to Europe.
The two sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation in staff training, technical assistance, information exchange, as well as develop synergies to create new business opportunities.
"The current agreement with the port of Shanghai is very important. It means that through Piraeus huge quantities of goods will be transported from China to the rest of the world," Greek Deputy Economy and Development Minister Stergios Pitsiorlas told Xinhua on the sidelines of the event.
The document highlights the great perspective of growth not only for Piraeus, but for Greece as well, and Greece plays a key role for the Belt and Road Initiative and Piraeus is the first step for this cooperation, Pitsiorlas said.
"The agreement will strengthen the national economy and employment. We need investments in this period. Such investments show that the foreigners trust our country," said Christos Lampridis, secretary general of Ports, Port Policy and Maritime Investments of the Ministry of Shipping.
Since 2010, Cosco Shipping's subsidiary Piraeus Container Terminal has been operating Piers II and III at Piraeus port under a 35-year concession agreement.
In 2016, COSCO Shipping acquired 67 percent of the shares of PPA, turning the port into an important transport hub at the crossroads of Asia, Europe and Africa.