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Piraeus port remains operational, no restriction on imports/exports

Measures introduced by Greece and other countries to contain the spread of COVID-19 are yet to impact trade in Greece’s main port Piraeus, though the measures include the shutdown of a number of retail businesses, and a ban on cruise liners approaching Greek ports and restrictions on the movement of ferries.

However, there is no restriction to the import or export of cargo.

“Piraeus port has not yet seen any effects from the measures, or the virus itself,” Piraeus Port Authority spokesman, Nektarios Demenopoulos, told Xinhua. “In fact we have already seen a strong start to the year, with cargo handled rising by 10% in the first couple of months compared to the same period last year,” said Demenopoulos.

Last year, the Cosco Shipping-controlled port’s piers II and III handled 5.16m teu, up 17% on 2018. The initial target for 2020 was set at 6.5m teu before the onset of the coronavirus, with the 2021 target at the port’s maximum capacity of 7.2m containers.

“Since there are no restrictions on imports and exports, we do not see a decline in activity to come, although the future of the epidemic remains completely uncertain,” said Demenopoulos, who estimated the main impact on Piraeus will come from cruise tourism.

Indeed, Greece has included coastal shipping and cruise companies but not oceangoing shipping in its EUR10bn ($11.2bn) coronavirus stimulus package announced by the government on 20 March. The stimulus came as tighter restrictions were imposed on ferry domestic routes. The government told ferry companies to allow only commercial trucks and island residents on domestic routes.

The country’s key oceangoing shipping sector is one of the few major economic activities not falling under the stimulus scheme as the government seeks to accommodate companies directly and explicitly hit by its anti-COVID-19 measures and considers oceangoing shipping so far has not.

Indeed, rather than asking for help, the shipowners community through the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS), has donated many millions of dollars through the various community support programmes of the UGS’ social welfare company, Syn-Enosis.

Last week the UGS and Syn-Enosis as well as continuing to support groups already benefiting, launched a fundraising campaign to provide medical equipment and consumables to state hospitals.

 

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