China’s port project in Greece not affected by privatization reversal

ATHENS — Chinese shipping conglomerate COSCO Group will continue to run two container terminals of Piraeus port in Greece under a 35-year concession agreement, after Greece’s newly elected government has decided to halt its privatization, an official with the COSCO subsidiary in Greece said on Wednesday.

On Monday, left-wing SYRIZA party leader Alexis Tsipras was sworn in as Greece’s newprime minister after winning Sunday’s national elections.

One of the first decisions announced by the new government was to stop the planned sale ofa 67-percent stake in the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA). COSCO is among one of the suitorsfor the privatization of PPA.

“The public character of Piraeus port will be maintained. The privatization stops right here,right now,” Greek Alternate Shipping Minister Theodoros Dritsas told media on Tuesday.

A senior official of the Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT), a subsidiary of the COSCO, whospoke on condition of anonymity, said Dritsas was referring to Pier I and other facilities ownedby the PPA, not including Pier II and Pier III operated by PCT.

Regarding further information about the suspension, the PCT official said the company hadnot been notified on this matter and refused to comment.

Dritsas said on Wednesday the government will not proceed with PPA’s privatization,because the “entire local community opposes this plan.”

Dritsas also said that “Greek people are connected with relations of friendship and solidaritywith the Chinese people.”

China is seeking confirmation of Greece’s new government about the privatization of Piraeusport, Greece’s biggest port.

“We have noticed the reports, and are checking with Greece about the issue,” ForeignMinistry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a daily press briefing on Wednesday.

Piraeus port has been run by the PCT after the financial crisis in 2008.

Commercial traffic through the port has increased eight-fold since COSCO’s takeover,attracting international giants such as ZTE and Hewlett-Packard to use the cargo terminals aslogistics centers for their products.

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