Pressure Mounts on Greece to Resolve Issues with China

Over the next month Greece is expected to finalize the outstanding approval of Piraeus Port Authority’s concession to China’s port operator Cosco Group (Hong Kong) Limited, as the pressure mounts on Greece to resolve all pending issues regarding its relations with China.

The move comes as the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras readies for an official visit to Beijing in early July, during which the countries are scheduled to address a number of major issues. In this regard, China said that the discussions would not be able to proceed unless the Piraeus Port concession is finalized.

However, the situation in Greece does not look so bright as the country’s cruise ship operators expressed their concerns over a possible lasting impact on the sector from an ongoing dockers’ strike, which started on May 26. The cruise ship operators are reportedly expecting a EUR 10 million impact in Piraeus only for June, Reuters cited head of the Greek cruise ship owners association as saying.

The current situation at the port is preventing cruise ships from docking and, as a result, these vessels are bound to change their course to other destinations, mostly heading to Turkey, Italy or other Greek ports.

The Port of Piraeus Dockworkers’ Union earlier unveiled its plan to launch repeated 48-hour strikes in protest of the privatizations of the country’s two biggest ports, the Piraeus and Thessaloniki.

The walkouts, which could spread from the Piraeus port to other ports in the country, are affecting the stevedore’s service, cranes, gantry cranes and forklift service, as well as shuttle bus service into the port areas, Inchcape Shipping Services Greece confirmed.

Cosco Group (Hong Kong) Limited and the TAIPED (Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund) signed an agreement for the transfer of the majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority in April.

The Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) and Thessaloniki Port Authority (THPA) are being privatized as part of the country’s bailout plan.

Thessaloniki, the second biggest port in Greece, seems to have sparked interest in Russia, as the country’s President voiced intention to bid for the port.

The port is being privatized under the same terms as its counterpart Piraeus.

World Maritime News Staff

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