Wei Jiafu: we have charged so many ships from Greek ship-owners, that is complementary not competition


Published at: 5/20/2011

Shipping industry between Greece and China is rather complementary than competition, leading Chinese shipping giant China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO) President and CEO Captain Wei Jiafu said in an exclusive interview with Markos Kantzios, (20 May) collaborator of theseanation.gr.

He said COSCO is exploring more investment opportunities in Greece after successfully winning a container operation project at the Greek port of Piraeus.

“This is our strategic choice and we consider that bilateral relations between China and Greece have a long-term future,” Wei, who paid a visit in Athens from May 18 to 22.

Capt. Wei, whose company recently signed an agreement with the Greek Piraeus Port Authority on operating the Piraeus container terminals, said his trip was to examine the future of COSCO’s investment in the biggest port of Greece and more opportunities for Chinese investments across the country.

He was received by Greek President Karolos Papoulias and with Prime Minister George Papandreou.

COSCO’s investment in Piraeus is part of the group’s overseas strategy,

he explained, noting that his company weighed the advantages of investing in the Greek port during a series of discussions with the previous Greek government.

Under the agreement, Pier II and Pier III of Piraeus Container Terminals will be under COSCO management for 35 years. COSCO is planning to invest 550 million euros (about 687 million U.S. dollars) to upgrade the facilities of the two piers. By 2015, the handling capacity of the port will be raised from today’s 1.6 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to 3.7 million TEUs.

Piraeus is linked with three continents — Asia, Europe and Africa, and China and Greece have traditional friendly ties, so Greece was seen as a good environment for COSCO to set up this plan, said Wei.

Since COSCO took over the operation of container business at Pier II of Piraeus port, the cargo volume immediately increased, he stressed.

Wei explained that due to the small size of the Greek economy, cargo volume in Piraeus used to be very low but COSCO managed to attract more customers by launching direct services from China to Piraeus.

As a result, from October to December 2009 the container movement volume increased by 25 percent compared with the same period in the previous year. From January to April 2010, the volume increased by 43 percent compared with the same period last year, despite the economic crisis that has hit Greece, Wei noted.

“That indicates to the Greek government and people the benefits. My target is to push Piraeus port back to number one position for container business in the Mediterranean region,” he said.

Wei strongly believes in closer cooperation with his Greek partners. He said he seeks stronger collaboration with the Piraeus Port Authority, which runs Pier I at the port and is the only local competitor for COSCO.

He is pleased with the development of relations with Greek ship owners who initially worried about strong competition from COSCO.

“Yes, before I came, the Greek ship-owners worried about fast growing of Cosco and it will become very strong competitor to Greek ship-owners. I said no. Cooperation is the main trend between Cosco and Greek ship-owners. For example we have charged so many ships from Greek ship-owners, which is complementary not competition. If Cosco becomes stronger and we will charge more ships from Greek shipowners. And benefit each other,” said Capt. Wei.

He successfully convinced them that cooperation is the key to success and will benefit all parties. He mentioned that during the banquet given by Capt. Wei in Megaron Musikis, many Greek ship-owners came to him and expressed their support to him and Cosco.


Referring to the Chinese saying “Phoenix never comes before the nest is built,” Wei said COSCO’s task in Greece is to build a nest to attract more Chinese investors to link the Mediterranean with southeast Asia.


“Cosco was the first phoenix which landed in Greece. I could forecast this action will bring a bright future for Greece,” he said.

Upon his return to China, Wei intends to ask the Ministry of Commerce for “support to create a new good distribution center for Chinese goods in Greece and more investments in the country, based on a win-win principle,” he said. Enditem

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