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Greece, China shares vision at business forum
By:Fu Yifei, Wu Qiong  |  From:english.eastday.com  |  2019-11-07 16:53

Before the opening of the second China International Import Expo, a business forum themed “New era of opportunity, Greek-Chinese partnerships” was held in Shanghai on 4 November, promoting closer business cooperation between China and Greece through B2B meetings between enterprises of the two countries.

(Photo by Cao Jun)

Greece is one of the 15 guests of honor during the second CIIE. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the new Greek Prime Minister, visited the Expo with senior government officials and business executives, and delivered a speech themed “New era of opportunity, Greek-Chinese partnerships” at the main forum.

In Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s speech at the forum, he said that Shanghai is a city he has visited many times and every time he comes, he has been impressed by its dynamism and by its willingness to always embrace change and look into the future. He also said, “a new dawn has finally arrived for Greece”, and in the future they will “leverage Greece’s significant comparative advantages in order to attract significant foreign direct investment.” He acknowledged that China has many investment projects in Greece that the government supports a lot, and so far investment flows from China to Greece have been primarily directed to the sectors of infrastructure, energy and real estate. He concluded, “But I believe we can do much more. I believe there is great potential in other sectors such as in renewable energy, clean technology, ICT (Information and Communications Technology), logistics, health care, agriculture and, of course, tourism, amongst others.”

Greece is an important trade partner of China in the European Union (EU). In 2018, the China-Greece bilateral trade volume reached almost 7.1 billion dollars, an increase of 36.3 percent year-on-year. In recent years, the trade relations between Shanghai and Greece have also achieved rapid development. From January to July this year, the trade volume between Shanghai and Greece reached almost 2.2 billion dollars, which is an increase of 29.6 percent on a year-on-year basis. By July 2019, Shanghai had absorbed 34 Greek enterprise projects and had sealed contracts with foreign investments worth up to 22.4 million dollars. Chen Qun, Vice Mayor of Shanghai, said that the door of Shanghai will always be open to investors from countries all over the world, including Greece. The city sincerely welcomes more Greek enterprises to settle in Shanghai for further development, and Shanghai will provide more convenient services. More investments from Greece in Shanghai enterprises are also encouraged, aiming to push bilateral economic and trade cooperation to a new level and achieve development from new perspectives.

This June, Ying Yong, Mayor of Shanghai, led a delegation to visit Athens, the capital of Greece, and Piraeus, a port city, to witness the positive results of cooperation between Shanghai and Greece in ports, education, culture, art and tourism. The China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) is constantly expanding its investment and operations in Piraeus port, and Shanghai Electric Equipment and PV-Tech Co have entered the Greek energy market for the first time. In addition, the Shanghai Museum and Shanghai History Museum have signed cooperation agreements with the Acropolis Museum in Athens. The Shanghai Kunju Opera Troupe and Folk Music Troupe also have been to Greece to perform. What’s more, Shanghai has actively participated in the Poseidon Maritime Exhibition of Greece, and Greece has also sent delegations many times to participate in the Shanghai Tourism Festival. Evidently, the practical cooperation between Shanghai and many Greek cities has achieved fruitful results.

Among them, the Piraeus port is a perfect example of cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative between China and Greece. Piraeus is the third largest city in Greece. It began friendly relations with Shanghai as early as 1985. In 2016, COSCO acquired 67% of the shares in Piraeus’s port authority. After several years of development, the port's container throughput increased from 880 thousand TEUs in 2010 to 4.9 million TEUs in 2018. Its global ranking also jumped from 93rd before the merger and acquisition to 32nd, becoming one of the fastest-growing container ports in the world. Wang Haiming, Deputy General Manager of COSCO, said, “The Piraeus port project invested and managed by COSCO from Shanghai has added a new link to the friendship and cooperation between the two cities. Shanghai and Piraeus port have a broad development prospect in the shipping industry in fields like aggregation, economic development, and so on.”

Yang Jianrong, President of the Shanghai Council for the Promotion of International Trade, pointed out that the Shanghai Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the Shanghai Chamber of International Commerce are committed to enhancing the contact and interaction between China and the global economy and trade, and promoting the construction of an open and inclusive global economic governance system. It is hoped that through this China-Greece business forum, the two countries can promote positive dialogue between enterprises from various fields, seeking win-win opportunities and sharing the fruits of development.

At this CIIE, the Greece Pavilion has "Greece: A culture to share” as its theme. Visitors can visit the exhibition of “5000 years of Greek civilization", learn about Greek art, myth, history and philosophy, appreciate the scenery of Santorini through virtual reality (VR) technology, and taste high-quality food with Greek characteristics.

The Chinese diet is changing, which means there is a huge business opportunity for Greek agricultural products, said Kyriakos Mitsotakis. He hoped that through the Import Expo, more Chinese consumers will be able to taste authentic Greek food, such as olive oil, red wine and dry cheese. “Greece is on the road of recovery, and we are confident to open a new chapter in economic and trade cooperation between the two countries.”

Story by Fan Yicheng