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Zhou Haisheng, CCS

Call for Greek strategy on China shipping cooperation

Greece needs a coherent national strategy for the shipping industry if it is to continue to play the major role in the international business activity of the country’s economy. This is especially true if the country is to continue to strengthen its commercial ties with China.

Panayiotis Michalos, secretary general for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation at the Foreign Affairs ministry ministry, says clear thinking is particularly critical for maritime trade and the marine industry which links Greece with global growth. He emphasised the need for a coherent strategy to enable Greece “to become a worthy partner of the large Chinese market”.

Michalos made his comments at the 5th Shipping Conference organised on the Greek island of Hydra,. He said the shipping industry is a leading parameter of “new government agreements for the development of Greek-Chinese relations in the business environment and in the development of the economy”.

Sun Liwei, commercial attaché of the Chinese embassy in Greece, delivered a similar message, urging Greece to accelerate all necessary measures and procedures for restructuring the country’s investment and development model in order to absorb Chinese investments.

He noted how the investment of Cosco Pacific in the two container terminals at the port of Piraeus was benefiting Greece, and said there was strong Chinese interest in Greece, pointing out China and Chinese investors have always wanted equal rights in the profits of both parties and for this reason the Chinese shipbuilding industry has made strides to deliver good quality ships at competitive prices to Greek owners.

Indeed, Sun said by 2015, the Chinese government hopes to see a shipbuilding industry, with a whole new look, having undergone a massive restructuring. "I am confident the structural adjustment of the Chinese shipbuilding industry will also provide new opportunities for Greek shipping," said Sun.

He said he was referring to China's ability to "provide new ships with higher quality and higher technology at very competitive terms". He said the restructuring "will certainly be a painful process, but it will be good for the industry and for the country" acknowledging the industry has been weak on innovation in the past.

Haisheng Zhou, gm of the China Classification Society (CCS) in Greece said the continued strong support from government policy and finance from Chinese banks would ensure a bright future for Chinese shipbuilding. He said, however, much still has to be done "particularly in the face of increasing demand for green shipping, eco-friendly technologies and other market demands".

He said Greek shipowners are gradually accepting CCS. He acknowledged the need to improve services offered by China, saying this remains an obligation for them, which will in turn, decide the future of Greek-Chinese relations.

Martin Stopford, president, Clarkson Research Services told the gathering he thinks Greek shipowners will continue to expand their operations in China as the quality of service offered is steadily improving.

John Coustas, president and ceo, of Ne York-listed container ship operator Danaos Corp, saw great potential in the Chinese shipping market in all Greek shipowning sectors. Coustas said the business environment of China is historically safe since the spread of the Chinese economy in the international arena assures reciprocal benefits for both parties involved. “The so-called model of business cooperation ‘win-win’ is gaining ground in the international markets,” said Coustas.


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