During his visit to Athens on Saturday, China's Premier Wen Jiabao (pictured) announced that he would strengthen business ties with Greece, including the creation of a five-billion dollar ship-building fund.
AP - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao vowed Saturday to double trade with Greece within five years, and to buy Greek bonds when the crisis-hit country returns to international markets.
Wen started a weeklong tour of European countries in Athens, heading a delegation that signed 11 private business deals and two state cooperation agreements for trade and cultural affairs.
“When Greece is in trouble, China will help - that’s when real friendship matters,” Wen said after meeting Prime Minister George Papandreou.
He said China planned to double its annual trade volume with Greece to $8 billion (€5.83 billion) by 2015.
He said China also planned to provide a $5 billion credit line to Greek ship-owners to help boost the purchase of Chinese-built vessels.
“I thank China for its vote of confidence in Greece,” Papandreou said.
“These agreements will have a significant effect.”
On Monday, Wen will fly to Brussels to attend a China-European Union summit and other meetings before travelling on to Italy and Turkey.
Greece in Crisis
Greece is eager to attract more foreign investment after mounting debts forced it to seek bailout loans this year from EU countries and the International Monetary Fund.
Chinese shipping and transport giant Cosco Group has said it wants to expand operations in Greece, after securing a $1 billion concession deal last year for the country’s largest container-terminal port.
Wen is scheduled to visit the terminal later Saturday, joined by Cosco president Wei Jiafu.
Greece’s Socialist government, slashing costs but struggling to meet revenue targets, recently created a Cabinet post dedicated to attracting foreign investment, and has promised to slash bureaucracy.
Last month, Greece signed an investment deal with Qatar worth a potential $5 billion that could include a major redevelopment of a disused sports complex from the 2004 Olympics in Athens, though the agreement did not refer to any specific projects.
Greece is receiving bailout loans from EU countries and the IMF worth €110 billion through 2012.
Trade volume between the two countries was €3.1 billion in 2009, down from €3.4 billion in 2008, according to Greek government figures.
The deals signed Saturday range from a private agreement to import Greek marble to a Chinese-led development project at the country’s main port of Piraeus.
Greek officials have said the country plans to return to the bond market sometime next year.
Date created : 2010-10-02