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China’s COSCO Wants New Democracy OK for Piraeus Master Plan

China’s COSCO Wants New Democracy OK for Piraeus Master Plan
August 3, 2019

ATHENS – The Chinese company COSCO that operates the port of Piraeus wants the new New Democracy government to approve a 612-million-euro ($680.15 million) overhaul plan that was stymied by the former ruling anti-business Radical Left SYRIZA.

The Master plan includes a new mall that local businesses wanted barred so they wouldn’t have competition and critics said former Premier Alexis Tsipras pandered to them while claiming he wanted more foreign investors and to spur major projects, most of which his party stopped.

The Shipping and Island Policy Ministry is expecting the resubmission of the plan, said the business newspaper Naftermporiki, with Piraeus the first link in the so-called Athens Riviera that leads along the seaside past the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center to the site of the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport where SYRIZA blocked an $8 billion development.

The master plan will go before a committee that under SYRIZA rule kept requesting more information and reclarifications in an apparent bid to prevent it from going ahead, the party’s hard core riddled with anti-foreign investor interests.

New Minister Yannis Plakiotakis has already met with Piraeus Port Authority (PPA’s) management, including CEO, Capt. Fu Chengqiu, and said the new government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wants to speed the project.

The paper said the government is looking to create an independent management entity by the privatization fund, HRADF, to oversee the approval of strategic environmental impact studies for major investments.

PPA is expected to include previous observations in its re-submitted master plan, which essentially means that the prospect of operating a ship-repair zone – mainly for “super yachts” – and acquiring a ship-building license appear remote, at least in the current phase, said the paper.

COSCO, the Shanghai-based multinational port operator and maritime shipper that owns a controlling stake and manages PPA, wants to open up to four high-end hotels within the port authority’s premises and the luxury shopping mall and shown interest in building a logistics hub and ship-building and ship-repair sector, which has opposed some strong local opposition.