New Government in Athens, new opening to foreign investments
The Greek Shipping Ministry welcomes updated € 800 million Piraeus port masterplan presented by COSCO
There is consistency in Athens with the official declarations made, following the recent elections that led to brand new government in Greece, when the Hellenic Maritime Ministry stated it would be a top priority to unblock (foreign) investments in the national ports that the previous left side government had stopped.
In fact the new Greek Shipping Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis expressed his satisfaction when he was showed an updated port masterplan for the development of areas and structures submitted by Piraeus Port Authority, operated by COSCO Shipping Ports Limited (being a 67% shareholder).
“The investment, a huge stake for our country, is a message to foreign investors: our government is committed to proceed rapidly with structural changes needed so that all investment programs that can improve the competitiveness of our national economy can find ground for growth” said Plakotakakis, who announced a review of objections within legality to find a solution to release the port masterplan, which includes the construction of a fourth container pier and a cruise terminal (aside a duty-free model shopping arcade and a 5-star hotel resort).
Overall the revised plan will involve some €800 million investment. Pier IV, designed for a capacity of 2.8 million TEUs and costing €330 million, will be constructed on the east end of Pier I. The general goal is to expand the port’s capacity to exceed 10 million TEUs, so to make of it a competitor comparable to the biggest Northern European ports.
In 2018 container traffic was 4.9 million TEUs, marking an over 18% increase on 2017, and seven times the mere 700,000 TEUs recorded before COSCO was first assigned the concession (for 35 years) on Pier II in 2008. Since then, the Chinese concessionaire, which is now also owner of the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) since 2016, has built Pier III and is now waving at Pier IV.
Forecast for 2019 is at least 5.5 million TEUs; the already planned completion of the western part of Pier III will allow capacity to reach 7.5 million TEUs, while the last quarter to overpass the 10 million TEUs threshold will be provided by the planned Pier IV.
Differently form the first version, the updated port masterplan excludes the original shiprepair and shipyard for mega-yacht projects.
The new masterplan was submitted at the end of August to the Port Design and Development Committee, a body made up of high-ranking official from several ministries.
Officially the rejection to the Chinese-led initiative was for environmental and archaeological reasons; indeed it was a political stop, since the ‘red’ government of Syriza wanted to protect some groups belonging to different sectors of the economy (from shop keepers to real estate owners and passing through logistics operators and hotel owners) which opposed to Cosco’s terrific expansion aims at a global pace.