By Xie Jun Source: Global Times Published: 2017/8/29
The investment by China COSCO Shipping Corp (COSCO) in Greece’s Piraeus port has created 2,600 direct jobs and 8,000 indirect jobs and increased the Greek government’s fiscal revenue, a source familiar with the project told the Global Times on Tuesday. COSCO plans to pour another 500 million euros ($600 million) in the port on top of the 350 million euros it has already invested, and that new investment is likely to create another 31,000 jobs in Greece and enhance the country’s logistics output value to 2.5 billion euros from the current 400 million euros, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity. COSCO acquired 51 percent of the Piraeus port in August 2016. Data provided by the source also showed that the Piraeus port’s increased efficiency and the stimulus given by COSCO’s investment to ancillary industries will generate about 5.1 billion euros of extra income for the Greek government each year for a long time. The data serves as a rebuttal of doubts raised by overseas media as to the actual benefits Chinese investors have brought to Greece. A New York Times report on Saturday questioned the economic benefits COSCO has brought to the local community, as it noted that the company has used subcontractors to hire workers mostly on short-term contracts at wages far below the standard of what unionized Greek dockworkers are paid. Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said that China’s investment has helped the Greek economy, which has been mired in a crisis since about 2008, but it is hard to quantify the benefits. «Without COSCO’s investment, the Piraeus port might still be idle today, not to mention the jobs created because of the investment,» he told the Global Times on Tuesday. Apart from COSCO, Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group is also reportedly investing in reconstructing an airport in Athens, according to media reports. Fosun declined to comment when contacted by the Global Times on Tuesday. According to Bai, as China’s economic conditions have stabilized a bit, it is a good time to carry out economic cooperation with Greece. Zhao Junjie, a research fellow at the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that Greece can act as a hub for China’s cooperation with European countries and resolve some of China’s capacity glut. «But I don’t think the Chinese government is very concerned about the economic benefits Greece can have for China. It’s more a sense of responsibility that Chinese companies bring capital to the country,» he told the Global Times on Tuesday. Bilateral trade rose 7.7 percent year-on-year to $2.69 billion in the first seven months in 2017, according to customs data.
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