“Sending containers — packed full of electronics goods from companies like HP and Sony — through Piraeus and then, via rail, to central and Eastern Europe saves COSCO between four and ten days, compared with an alternative route through northern ports like Hamburg, Antwerp and Rotterdam. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement: the Greek logistics sector is one of the country’s most promising industries for future growth, according to a 2012 McKinsey survey. Chinese investment has massively increased the capacity and the turnover at the port, and has lured other international shipping companies to bring their business to Piraeus as well.
Just last week, it was reported in the Greek press that Yang Ming Lines, a major Taiwanese shipping company, made a deal with PCT (Piraeus Container Terminals), the Greek subsidiary of COSCO, to expand its use of the port’s facilities. Shipping behemoths like MSC and Maersk have also increased their presence in Piraeus since the Chinese invested in upgrading the port’s infrastructure.
“My assessment is that there can be a strategic development partnership with China,” Yannis Dragasakis, deputy prime minister and a key representative of the moderate wing of Syriza, told POLITICO. Dragasakis, a wily 68-year-old economist, was narrowly defeated in his bid to lead the Greek Communist Party in the early 1990s. “In the context of the New Silk Roads initiative, there are infrastructure projects which are of common interest,” he said. “A significant part of Greece’s recovery in the coming years needs to come from increased infrastructure investment.””