'Maritime Silk Road' hits troubled waters as Greece halts port sale to China

By Ryan Kilpatrick, January 29, 2015

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Greece's new left wing government, elected on Sunday on an anti-austerity and anti-privitization platform, has announced it will halt the sale of a majority stake in the port of Piraeus. 

Following through on a pre-election pledge to halt the sale of state assets, Greece's new minister of shipping has announced that Chinese shipping group COSCO's acquisition of a 67 percent stake in the country's largest port. Greek leaders have stated that "the COSCO deal will be reviewed to the benefit of the Greek people." 

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COSCO Pacific signed a 35-year operating concession for two of Piraeus's three container terminals in 2009, which then grew faster than most of the group's 22 other terminals located chiefly in Chinese mainland 

The sale of stakes in Piraeus and Thessaloniki, the country second biggest port, were agreed under the international bailout deal reached after Greece's government-debt crisis.

Shipping is one of the country's most important industries, accounting for 4.5 percent of GDP and employing about 160,000 people (four percent of the workforce). The Greek Merchant Navy controls 16.2 percent of the world's merchant fleet - the largest in the world. 

[Image via IHS Maritime]

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