ATHENS, June 19, 2016 (Xinhua) -- George Xiradakis, Managing Director of Piraeus-based XRTC Business Consultants, receives an interview by Xinhua in Piraeus, Greece, on June 10, 2016. China COSCO Shipping's landmark investment in Piraeus port is a multi-win for China, Greece and Europe, George Xiradakis told Xinhua in a recent interview here as Greece's largest port is about to change hands this summer. (Xinhua/Lefteris Partsalis)
by Maria Spiliopoulou
ATHENS, June 19 (Xinhua) -- China COSCO Shipping's landmark investment in Piraeus port is a multi-win for China, Greece and Europe, a prominent Greek Shipping Finance Consultant told Xinhua in a recent interview here as Greece's largest port is about to change hands this summer.
George Xiradakis, Managing Director of Piraeus-based XRTC Business Consultants, has deep knowledge of Greece's thriving maritime industry as well as commercial operations and over the past two decades has played a key role in building bridges between Greece and China by facilitating the financing of Greek shipping companies by Chinese banks.
At the closing of Posidonia, a major worldwide biannual shipping exhibition, which was held in Athens from June 6 to 10, he talked to Xinhua about the significance of shipping for the global economy, the secret of Greek ship owner's success story and the prospects of Sino-Greek collaboration on board and ashore, in particular following the acquisition of the majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) by China COSCO Shipping.
Over 22,000 visitors from across the world flooded the Athens Metropolitan Expo during Posidonia exhibition to be briefed on the trends in the maritime industry at the 1,800 stands of exhibitors from 90 countries. China had the largest national pavilion.
For Xiradakis the new record participation was another stamp on the title of Greek merchant fleet's leadership in shipping internationally for several decades and the vital role the maritime industry holds in global economy.
Presently Greek ship owners control about 20 percent of the total deadweight tonnage in the tanker market in an industry which carries around 90 percent of world trade.
"We are moving almost 94 percent of the cargos transported among countries. If we cease transportation for one day there is going to be a block in the logistics chain that will necessitate another 6-9 months to recover. This is the importance of shipping," Xiradakis said.
Asked to comment on the formula of success of Greek shipping and the lessons other sectors of the ailing Greek national economy or other countries can receive, he pointed to the strong connection of Greeks with the sea as a maritime nation throughout the centuries, an innovative spirit and entrepreneurial flair, directness and boldness in doing business.
"We have seawater in our blood and we know how to behave internationally. We know how to respect and we want to be respected. We know how competition is and we always try to survive through a competitive market which unfortunately we do not have in the local economy," Xiradakis explained.
He said he found the same values and qualities in Chinese people when he started working in China in the 1980s as a seafarer before becoming involved in shipping financing in the mid 1990s and continuing doing business with China as a financier.
The mutual understanding and respect, the special bond between the two countries and people, Greeks' deep knowledge of maritime issues combined with Chinese's hardworking mentality and decisiveness in reforming and progressing guarantee fruitful bilateral collaboration in Piraeus and beyond for both sides and the world, the Greek expert pointed out.
"I think that the Piraeus investment of China and COSCO is a multi-win. China is the one winner, but on the other side there are many other winners. The entire EU is a winner. Saving costs of transportation goods from China to Europe by 10 percent ... through the Piraeus port is a win," he stressed.
China COSCO Shipping has presence at the Piraeus port since autumn 2009 with impressive results in the container terminal paving the ground for the transformation of the port into a modern transit hub for passenger vessels and cargos in Europe.
The privatization has been hailed by Greek and Chinese officials and entrepreneurs and international analysts as a milestone in efforts to boost growth to resolve the six- year Greek debt crisis as well as in the construction of the contemporary Silk Road and the materialization of the wider "Belt and Road" initiative.
According to Xiradakis, Sino-Greek cooperation must be further deepened after the PPA agreement with no more delays.
"I do not want only China to be in Greece, but I want China to have a completed network of logistics to ensure that the new Silk Road is working properly and this is something that we have to say. It is not a matter to be scared," Xiradakis said, pointing to the reservations expressed in some European capitals concerning the deepening Sino-Greek ties.
"We must proceed now to develop the logistics centers that were planned ten years ago... develop airports and the railway network. After that we will see development and all of a sudden Greece will become a real developed economy," he underlined, urging for the lifting of any obstacles on the road.
ATHENS, June 11 (Xinhua) -- COSCO SHIPPING PANAMA, the vessel that was selected to make the first historic transit through the expanded Panama Canal later this June, berthed at Piraeus port and left Greece on Saturday with the best wishes of Panama Canal Authority officials and China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited top managers for the landmark sail.
On June 26 the China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited operated ship which is owned by American-based MC-Seamax and chartered to COSCO SHIPPING Lines, will be the first and only "Neopanamax" vessel that will go through the new lock at the Panama Canal. Full story