Celebrating 40 years of Diplomatic Relations

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Celebrating 40 years of Diplomatic Relations

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Since classical antiquity, Greece has been a formidable maritime nation. The country’s culture and mythology are intrinsically tied to the sea and shipping remains a key strength of modern Greece.

“We’ve always been a seafaring nation and our contributions to shipping are extremely important to the world,” explains George A. Gratsos, President of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping.

The country’s modern shipping industry started taking shape after World War II when famed Greek ship owners such as Aristotle Onassis purchased Liberty cargo ships from the U.S. to rebuild fleets destroyed during the war.

Today, Greece maintains the world’s largest merchant fleet consisting of 3,185 vessels greater than 1,000 gross tonnage – well over 200 million dead-weight tons (dwt). This figure represents almost fifteen percent of the world dwt market. Greek owners control approximately twenty two percent of the world’s tanker fleet and sixteen percent of the world’s bulk carrier fleet in terms of dwt.

At the end of 2010, the overall capital invested in new building orders by Greek ship owners amounted to ten percent of the entire global order book. These orders place Greece in the number one position internationally with 8.7% of the world’s fleet by units and 13.5% by capacity.

Since 2000, Greek ship owners have ordered nearly 500 vessels from China’s shipyards with an estimated 267 currently under construction.

“Greek ship owners have good relations with Chinese shipyards and I expect relations to strengthen as Chinese shipbuilders focus on more energy efficient vessels,” says Gratsos.

While Greece is currently at the center of the European sovereign debt crisis, the country’s economic woes have had little impact on the powerful Greek shipping industry. From 2000-2010, the shipping industry contributed 140 billion Euros in foreign exchange earnings to the Greek economy and today shipping accounts for six percent of Greece’s GDP.

“Shipping is different from the rest of the Greek economy because we operate internationally. We are affected by events in the global economy rather than our local economy,” says John Pachoulis, President of the Hellenic Shipbrokers Association.

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John Pachoulis, President,
Hellenic Shipbrokers
Association

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George Gratsos, president,
Hellenic Chamber of
Shipping

As Greece and China celebrate forty years of diplomatic relations today, the maritime cluster remains one of the most important pillars of cooperation between the two countries.

China’s investment in Greece’s largest port, Piraeus, is a flagship project for the two nations. Cosco operates two of the three container terminals at Piraeus and employs around 600 Greek workers.

“We enjoy doing business with the Chinese and would like to facilitate more exchanges.  Once the Chinese start investing in Greece, they will quickly enjoy the benefits of working with us,” says Pachoulis.

The strength of the Greek shipping industry is currently being celebrated at the highly anticipated ‘Posidonia’ maritime trade fair (June 4 – 8).

“The ’Posidonia’ Exhibition reveals the dynamism and resilience of the Greek shipping industry”, says Theodore Veniamis, President of the Union of Greek Ship owners. “Despite concerns about the world economy and the difficult times Greece is facing, we will maintain our international shipping reputation and overcome the challenges of the future.”

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