Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Saturday expressed hope for more investments to come to his country following a deal between Greece's privatization fund HRADF and China COSCO Shipping on the sale of the majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority (PPA).
He made the remarks while meeting China COSCO Shipping Corporation Chairman Xu Lirong after the agreement signing between HRADF and China COSCO Shipping on Friday.
"I hope that this deal is just the beginning for many more investments to come to Greece," Pavlopoulos told Xu during a meeting at the presidential mansion in Athens, noting the importance of the deal for both sides.
Under the deal, the Chinese company will pay 280.5 million euros (319.79 million U.S. dollars) to HRADF for the initial acquisition of a 51 percent stake, while it will pay another 88 million euros within five years for another 16 percent, provided it has implemented the agreed investments in the port.
"In 2008, China made two very important moves by choosing Greece as a gateway to Europe, and Piraeus as the first crossing point to Europe," said the president.
Pavlopoulos hailed the strong relations between the two countries, saying China and Greece connect not only economically, but with other ties related to the world view of economic growth.
"Greece will help China come closer to the European Union, so both can benefit greatly from this partnership," he said.
On his part, Xu praised the bilateral relations and the friendship the two countries share.
"Our goal is to help Piraeus Port become the largest container hub in Europe. I believe that we will promote not only the trade between China and Greece, but through Greece will boost China's commercial activity to other countries in the region," Xu added.
As soon as the deal comes into effect, China's COSCO Shipping plans to invest in maintaining the shipbuilding infrastructure, seek a greater share in the cruise sector and organize coastal shipping, Xu said.
He also assured the Greek president that the company will "pay great attention" to the labor relations and to "provide the best working conditions" to the employees.
"When we talk about economic development we always mean sustainable growth, which places people at its center," Pavlopoulos said.
Since 2009, China COSCO Shipping's subsidiary Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT) has been operating Piers II and III at Piraeus port under a 35-year concession agreement. In 2015, the container throughput of Piraeus Port increased to 3.36 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) from 880,000 TEU in 2010, while the global ranking of Piraeus Port also increased significantly from 93rd to 39th in terms of container capacity.