Shangai (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos) – Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis called for tightening of Greek-Chinese commercial relations, noting that there is room for improvement, during a speech he delivered at a business conference here on Saturday.
“I strongly believe that there is much room for futher development of our economic ties. My visit here is the result of economic diplomacy efforts that were launched a while ago, but also the beginning of a cooperation which we believe will bring significant and mutual benefits for both sides,” Karamanlis said.
Within this context, the Greek government’s goal is to increase exports of Greek products and services to China, to encourage bilateral cooperation and to attract Chinese investors, he said.
He cited the advantages of post-Olympic Greece, a stable environment, infrastructure, tax reform, the new development law and the country’s strategic location as incentives.
Referring to the various economic sectors wherein bilateral cooperation would be beneficial, Karamanlis cited shipping, noting that the Greek government encourages the building of Greek ships in China and is trying to ensure that the Greek commercial fleet is the preferred choice for the transport of Chinese goods in international markets.
Energy is another sector for possible cooperation, according to Karamanlis.
“The promotion and execution of major international works have made Greece into an energy hub, providing more opportunities for Chinese investors interested in becoming active in the Balkan region,” he said.
As for tourism, “our goal is to attract a significant number of Chinese tourists to Greece,” Karamanlis noted, adding that Chinese citizens’ increasing interest in travel “is a major challenge for the Greek tourism industry.”
He also appealed to Chinese importers, stressing the value of Greek agricultural products, such as wine, fresh produce, dairy products and olive oil.
“The superiority of internationally-acclaimed Greek agricultural products is the best guarantee for Chinese importers,” he added.
The Greek premier also referred to the ongoing cooperation between the two countries as Greece helps China prepare for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
“I therefore invite you to focus your investment interest in the Greek market, where you can easily find suitable local partners which can then lead to profitable joint ventures,” Karamanlis concluded.
After his speech, Karamanlis met with the Mayor of Shanghai, who hosted a luncheon in the former’s honour.
Karamanlis wrapped up his official three-day visit to China with visits to Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Television Tower and the city’s exhibition centre.
The Greek premier enjoyed the view of the city from the 468-metre high tower, while earlier, during his visit to the exhibit centre, he saw models of the city’s planned development projects and infrastructure works.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday morning, he expressed satisfaction with his visit and predicted that positive results in the sectors of shipping and tourism will be imminent.
Karamanlis said he was pleased with the talks he had with China’s political leadership, stressing that the discussions were all based on concrete plans for closer bilateral cooperation on both an economic and commercial level.
As for Greek agricultural products, Karamanlis said that much effort, perseverance and consistency are needed for Greek products, such as olive oil, to ‘conquer’ the Chinese market.