China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), has drawn up an official agenda of talks with the Greek government and near the top of the list is the prospect of a Chinese investment at Elefsina port, through the participation of a Chinese group in the construction of new infrastructure planned for the port and the upgrading of the rail link “so as to release the full potential of the port of Elefsina". It also includes the development of local and possibly international supply chain hubs.
Developments are speeding up now as Greek state sell-off fund Taiped is promoting the utilisation of the 10 regional ports in its portfolio with the hiring of consultants, while the vice president of NDRC, Jizhe Ning made a visit to Athens last month to discuss bilateral cooperation.During the visit four agreements were signed, two between China's energy company, Shenhua Group and Greek industrial group Copelouzos Group and the Greek Public Power Corporation, one between China Development Bank and ADMIE, Greece's independent power transmission operator and one between the China Development Bank, Greek industrial conglomerate, the Mytilineos Group, and the China Nonferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Co (NFC).
Chinese interest in the port sector has been obvious for some time, with research being conducted into new areas for the expansion of Cosco’s shipping and port activities in the region, particularly related to dry-bulk cargo, an area in which the Cosco-controlled Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) does not currently have a presence. This interest is also related to the planned expansion of the shipbuilding and ship repair industry.
Elefsina is the location of Elefsis Shipyards, Greece second largest yard. Sorting the future of Elefsis is a priority for the government, and executives of Cosco have participated in inter-ministerial meetings. The Cosco team, which has been kept in the loop with developments, has sought more detailed and analytical information on the status of Elefsis and the country’s third largest yard, the Neorion Shipyard facility on the island of Syros, currently the subject of a bid from US-based Onex Technologies.