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China's COSCO Wants Bigger Stake in Running Port of Piraeus

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The port of Piraeus. (Photo by Eurokinissi, file)

PIRAEUS -- The Chinese company COSCO that operates the port of Piraeus and wants to expand its abilities is seeking to boost its investment share from 51 to 67 percent, as allowed in a 2016 deal.

The company has submitted a letter of intent to Greece's privatization agency (HRADF) and the finance and shipping ministries, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki of the move.

The company, however, cited some delays in plans during the COVID-19 pandemic, included building a 104-million euro ($123.98 million) cruise ship hub, noting there were waits in European Union subsidies making up 95 percent of the cost.

COSCO also said the municipality of Piraeus, which surrounds much of the port authority, has improperly barred trucks carrying building materials to the port from passing through its road network.

The city responded that the company has not submitted an environmental impact study for its strategic master plan with local officials at odds with the port authority which has bettered the area.

In January, before the pandemic hit, COSCO said it would continue to invest in Greece, the head of the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) Yu Zenggang said during a meeting with Shipping and Island Policy Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis, saying the port would be turned into one of the largest in the EU within five years.

"We have already approved a large COSCO investment plan of 610 million euros and we are working together to create the conditions for expanding this plan. We, as a government, also want to see the Piraeus port evolve into one of Europe's largest freight ports," also said Plakiotakis then.