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China-Greece Cooperation on Jointly Building Green Ports

2024-03-11 | Economic Daily & Global Times


A container ship sits moored at the freight terminal at Piraeus Port. [photo:/VCG]

China and Greece have great potential for cooperation in improving economy, social welfare, and mitigating climate change within the context of the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism and China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China adheres to the concept of new development and actively promotes green and low-carbon development, fulfilling international commitments in addressing climate change. In recent years, Greece has also been proactive in addressing climate change issues, enacting clear emission reduction legislation, advancing energy structural adjustments, and vigorously developing a green economy. The concept of green development is increasingly being reflected in the cooperation projects between the two sides.

On February 24, COSCO Shipping (Piraeus) Ports Ltd. (Piraeus Port Authority S.A.) and Guangzhou Port Group Co., Ltd. signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Green Port Cooperation at COSCO SHIPPING Piraeus Port, which provides new opportunities for green cooperation on both sides’ ports. They will work together to jointly explore vast markets and enhance practical cooperation in such fields as talents exchange and training, container route opening, green port development, application of innovative technologies, etc.

The Port of Piraeus in Greece, located in the southeastern Europe and at the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula, is the closest European port to the Suez Canal, making it a crucial gateway for Asian goods, including those from China, to enter Europe, which plays an important role in East-West connectivity. Piraeus Port is a landmark project of China-Greece cooperation under the framework of the BRI, a symbol of mutual respect, solidarity and win-win cooperation between the two countries, and a vivid example of the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and benefit sharing. Today, it has become the top of container ports in the Mediterranean and the 3rd largest cruise ship homeport in Europe. Besides, Piraeus Port is also the largest ferry port in Europe, and a significant car shipping transit port and ship repair center in the Mediterranean.

Guangzhou Port is a transportation hub for energy, raw materials and goods transportation and north-south commodity exchanges, and an important component of China's comprehensive transportation system. It is the largest comprehensive main hub port in South China, the largest domestic trade container hub port in China, and the largest grain transit port in South China. Additionally, it is also an important automobile hub port and a hub port for Africa and Southeast Asia routes. Currently, Guangzhou Port has opened two routes to Piraeus Port.

Based on the signed MOU, Guangzhou Port and Piraeus Port will follow the principle of "win-win cooperation, complementary advantages and common development", deepen their cooperation, establish a long-term strategic partnership for the future, and consolidate further the friendship-port relationship between the two sides. They will actively seize the development opportunities of the BRI, deepen connectivity and service the BRI construction. What’s more, Guangzhou Port and Piraeus Port will give full play to their advantages as trade gateways between China and Greece, achieve deep connectivity between the ports, provide customers with more convenient, smooth, high-quality and efficient integrated port logistics services, and jointly promote the business development of both sides.

Yu Zenggang, the Chairman of COSCO SHIPPING Piraeus Port (Piraeus Port Authority S.A.), expressed that Piraeus Port, as a key project of the BRI, always adheres to the concept of cooperation and sustainable development, and further strengthens the "Point, Line and Surface" Three-Dimensional layout of the construction of trade channels throughout Europe by the construction of a green and smart Piraeus Port. Also, it improves the logistics service capacity of Greece ports to promote Eurasian trade. The signing of the MOU on Green Cooperation with Guangzhou Port will be a new starting point for the two ports to jointly achieve sustainable development.

In recent years, Piraeus Port has made significant progress in terms of infrastructure, digital innovation and green growth. Notably, the expansion of the car terminal at Heracleous Port of Piraeus Port Authority S.A. marks another milestone in the development of the regional transport industry. At the inauguration ceremony for the project “Completion of the Expansion of RoRo (Car Terminal) - Heracleous Port” held on February 6, Kostis Hatzidakis, the Minister of Finance of the Hellenic Republic, indicated that the Port of Piraeus is like a "lever for the economic development of Greece", which has made a substantial contribution to economic and social development for Greece in recent years. Since the Greek government signed the first agreement with COSCO 16 years ago, the development of Piraeus Port has been obvious to all.

Xiao Junzheng, the Chinese Ambassador to Greece, told the Global Times reporter Yin Yeping that the success of the Piraeus project serves as a vivid example of the BRI and stands as a significant achievement in the cooperation between China and Greece. In 2022, Piraeus Port also received awards such as the "Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Industry" award from the Greek Ministry of Tourism and the "Diamonds of the Greek Economy" award from Hellenic Shipping News. These accolades further illustrate the widespread recognition and approval of the Piraeus Port project by Greek society. He also emphasized that, in the future, China and Greece can strengthen their commitment to the comprehensive development plan for Piraeus Port, enhance cooperation in trade, make new contributions to stability of the China-Europe industrial and supply chains, promoting economic integration in the Balkans, and advancing the EU integration.

Over the past decade since China introduced the BRI, China's practical cooperation with countries around the world in infrastructure development, including port construction, strictly adheres to the principles of consultation, joint construction, and shared benefits, which aims to create more opportunities for mutual development. With the high-quality co-construction of the Belt and Road, the development of Piraeus Port will welcome more unprecedented opportunities. The improvement of China's innovation capacity and the import and export of high-tech manufacturing products will open up more development space for the development of the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line and provide a sustainable impetus for the development of Piraeus Port.

As a result, in the journey to develop green and digital economies and to build new national competitiveness in Greece, both China and Greece can strengthen their partnership through high-quality cooperation in the BRI. Two countries can consolidate and deepen existing cooperation projects, advance connectivity cooperation represented by Piraeus Port and the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line. As Xiao said, as long as both China and Greece remain committed to their shared goals, uphold the principles of consultation, joint construction, and shared benefits, and continue to foster a spirit of cooperation and mutual prosperity, by aligning their national development strategies, it is believed that practical cooperation between China and Greece will continue to yield even more fruitful results in the future.

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Edited and Translated by Li Tian