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Cosco aims to make Piraeus top container port in the Med

Cosco Shipping Ports (CSP) has set its sights on making Greece’s largest port Piraeus the number one container handling port in the Mediterranean within 18 months. Presently it is third.

Under its Greek subsidiary, Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT), the Greek port has become Cosco’s outstanding overseas performer in less than two years, receiving recognition earlier this month when CSP reported its first half 2018 results. CSP highlighted the performance of Piraeus, while warning of a “year full of challenges” lies ahead.

CSP announced container throughput at its Piraeus piers II and III increased 18.4% to 2.075m teu in the first half of 2018 compared to 2017. Further, with a new berth added in January 2018, throughput at the separately run Cosco PPA terminal I surged 63.3% to 1.6m teu giving Piraeus a 3.675m teu for the first half.

Throwing more light ion the achievement PCT said its net profits from terminals II and III in the first half of 2018 jumped 25.8% year-on-year to $13.64m, due to increased traffic and the appreciation of the Euro against the dollar. Turnover rose 31% year-on-year, to $111.45m, as a result of increased container flow from calls from members of the Ocean Alliance. In July, container traffic reached a record 415,000 teu, up 34.3% compared to July 2017.

This led PCT executive Zhang Anming to declare the "transport of goods has more than tripled over the last years in Piraeus" and the rise will continue in 2018. "In one and a half years, Piraeus will become the largest port of the Mediterranean, from third as it is today." Zhang, added: "Piraeus is the fastest growing port in the world. Only this year, the management seeks to increase freight traffic by 35%."

Cosco continues to invest in Piraeus with the PPA in the throes of completing infrastructure work on Pier I. This month it issued calls for the supply of new equipment, including cargo and stacking cranes, the replacement of electromechanical equipment in existing substations, and information systems. Moreover, the PPA plans to construct a new, 47,000sq m warehouse behind the car terminal.

Read more: Cosco reveals $620m Piraeus development plan

Additionally, the PPA is set to embark on a $200m project to expand the cruise port to enable it to accommodate four of the largest cruise ships at one time, with the aim of turning Piraeus into a major homeport and securing all the financial benefits that will bring to the country.

However, the PPA is far from happy at the decision of the general secretariat of Industry to reject an application to create a new shipbuilding facility in Perama’s ship repair zone. The issue topped the agenda when the new ambassador of China, Zhang Qiyue, visited Piraeus port, 20 August.

The Attica prefecture authority has also turned down an appeal by PPA of a previous decision to not grant a shipbuilding license to the port. Cosco had submitted a request for a license to repair mega-yachts to the regional authority, which rejected it, citing a 1984 law that forbids heavy industry facilities in Attica. The PPA's leadership is considering seeking legal recourse to administrative courts against the regional authority's decision claiming that, despite the law, four such licenses have been issued in the past.

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