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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Greece calls halt on Piraeus port sale

The newly elected Greek Prime Minister Alexi Tsipras has called a halt to the planned sale of a 67% stake in the Piraeus Port Authority. The announcement has put in question a €230 million deal the previous government agreed with Chinese terminal operator Cosco.

The new left-wing government was elected this week on a wave of opposition to biting austerity measures imposed by the EU in return for bailout loans. Greek has faced some of the toughest adjustments following the recession in 2009.

"We are about to begin negotiating with our partners," Yanis Varoufaki, Finance Minister for the winning Syriza party said. "It is a great challenge, but the challenge is how to minimise social costs that were unnecessary throughout Europe.”

The deal to sell a stake in the Port of Piraeus had been designed to boost the state coffers but Tsipras has signalled his intent to take a hardline approach to EU imposed austerity and sell-offs.

The proposed €230 million contract for the Piraeus Port Authority, one of the largest freight ports in Europe, was designed to expand capacity at piers II and III to 6.2 million TEUs annually from 3.7 million. The investment amount was set-aside by Cosco as part of a $40 billion spend by Beijing, aimed at strengthening ‘Silk Road’ links from Asia through Southeastern Europe.

“The Cosco deal will be reviewed to the benefit of the Greek people," Thodoris Dritsas, deputy shipping minister commented.

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