Chinese look to build on presence in Greece

Chinese businesses are taking a closer look at the Greek market in a sign that Asian country is looking at building on its presence in Greece, according to local government and business officials.

Greece is struggling to draw foreign investments amidst its eight year economic downturn but China has become one of its largest investors in the last few years, drawn by the broader eastern European market.

Some of Greece’s largest privatisations have gone to Chinese interests. Late last year, Greece's state-controlled power company PPC sold a minority stake in electricity grid operator to China’s State Grid for 320 million euros.

This followed another agreement PPC made a month earlier with China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) to build a 1 billion euro power plant in Greece.

These deals both came after the flagship deal where Greece’s largest port in Piraeus went to China’s Cosco Holdings.

Greek government officials say that a team of Chinese officials from the field of energy were in Athens last month on a fact finding mission and that another business delegation is expected in the Greek capital in coming weeks.

Apart from the energy and transport sectors, the developing ties between the two nations is reflected in tourism with the number of Chinese visiting Greece in the last few years exceeding growth rate of more than 20%.

In September this year, China will also be the honored city at the country’s largest trade fair in Thessaloniki, TIF.