EDITOR’S NOTE (Nick Stamatakis): Helleniscope has analyzed numerous times the role of Greek Shipowners in determining the geopolitical course of the country. While most political powers in Greece agree that the country stay aligned with the West, an equal or bigger number promote that the country’s doors stay open for business to all powers; Greece is a “corner property” on earth, and if it is to prosper it has to “sell” its location to the highest bidder or to allow all “a slice of the pie”. And so the Port of Piraeus was bought by China, Thessaloniki was sold to a German-Russian consortium, Alexandroupolis to the U.S.A., and now Volos to Ivan Savvidis, a Greek-Russian businessman who also has a stake at Thessaloniki. Smaller ports are being negotiated also…
Naturally, it is the Greek shipowners who dictate much of these policies, especially when it comes to China and Russia. Why? Because of their financial power and their control of much of the media… Here is their “frame of mind”: If you have a fleet of many hundreds of tankers how can you stay in business as a shipowner if you do not do business with Russia? The same is true for China, the country that produces the most products on Earth. Who is going to carry these products to their destinations? The 5,500 ships owned by Greek shipowners are among the primary carriers.
And let’s not forget the American liquified natural gas, that is now sold to Europe for four times as much as the Russian. Greek shipowners started building very early on a huge fleet that now numbers over 350 LNG ships – very expensive to build. Without these Greek ships, American LNG would not be able to be sold around the globe.
I am sure you get the picture: It is the story of peaceful Hellenic cosmopolitanism, going on in its Fourth millennium!! Yes, my friends, Greeks started traveling with their ships around the Mediterranean and gradually around Europe and beyond well before 1,000 BC, and throughout these millennia they established peaceful trade connections with all the people they met – never turning to barbarian exploitation as the Europeans did after them. This is a lesson to keep in mind as we move to a multipolar world and we will need “models” of peaceful coexistence…
BELOW IS THE REPORT FROM A GREECE – CHINA CONFERENCE IN PIRAEUS LAST WEEK…
Over the past five decades, Greece and China have developed strategic partnerships, reaping mutual benefits, mainly in the fields of communications, financial services, energy, maritime transport, shipbuilding and port operations.
Today, China is the engine of global shipping, as it is responsible for 50% of the trade in bulk carriers, while at the same time it is the largest importer of oil in the world. It has also developed the “The Belt and Road Initiative” program, which connects China by land and sea with the rest of Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. This program also includes the port of Piraeus, which is the maritime trade gateway between China and Europe.
A very large part of China’s trade is carried out by Greek-owned merchant ships, since the fleet of Greek interests constitutes 21% of the world’s tonnage in terms of dwt. It is noted that one in four tankers as well as 18% of bulk carriers are Greek.
At the same time, Greek shipowners have recently built around 1,300 ships in Chinese shipyards.
In the framework of the close cooperation between the two countries in the shipping sector, the “Naftemporiki” Media Group, with the oldest economic and business newspaper in Greece, which counts almost a century of uninterrupted circulation, the website naftemporiki.gr which remains among the top choices of online news, and the new economic content TV channel Naftemporiki TV, joins forces with China Global Television Network/CGTN, China’s leading English-speaking international media, to co-organize a conference with key pillars of discussion “shipping and transport – ports.”
China’s great influence on the global economy, and of course on shipping, became widely known from 2003 onwards. It is the time when the dry cargo market was breaking one record after another, driven by Chinese demand.
In May 2008, just before the global financial crisis, which also crashed shipping markets, the BDI index reached historic highs due to very high demand from China. In the years to come, the large Asian economy largely affected shipping markets.
At the same time, the largest Chinese shipping group, Cosco, won an international tender in 2009 to manage the Container Terminal of the port of Piraeus. A port that is characterized by the Chinese authorities as the “Dragon’s Head” for Europe-China trade relations and is soon climbing to the top five largest ports in Europe.
A few years later, in 2016, Cosco emerged as the highest bidder in the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund’s (HRADF) international tender for the majority package of shares in the Piraeus Port Authority and took over the reins of the country’s largest port.
The conference and the speakers
The conference entitled “Wind in the Sails: New Opportunities for Europe and China” will be held on September 28, from 11.30 to 15.10, at Divani Apollon Palace, offering participants the chance to exchange views and hold meetings with leading representatives of the two countries.
The speakers will be high-ranking executives of shipping companies, shipowners, financial analysts and senior banking executives with long-term experience in their field, as well as representatives of agencies – organizations and the state. The discussion will be hybrid (in-person participation and online).
The official languages of the conference will be Greek and Chinese, with simultaneous interpretation in English.
The conference will be videotaped and broadcast by the financial-business channel Naftemporiki TV and CGTN and will be posted on their YouTube Channels. Related posts will be made on social media and will be covered by the journalists of “Naftemporiki” and naftemporiki.gr.
On the day of the conference, a special bulletin entitled “Focus on Shipping and Environment” will be distributed together with the printed edition of “Naftemporiki”.