"As Greece is currently in a phase of economic recovery, we are absolutely confident that we are heading for a new chapter in Greek-Chinese relations.
There is no better time to write a new chapter in Greek-Chinese relations. A new era is finally dawning for Greece, after a very difficult decade," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday, speaking at a Greek-Chinese business forum in Shanghai with the participation of more than 60 Greek and dozens of Chinese businessmen.
The prime minister invited Asian businessmen to place their trust in Greece, stressing that "now is the right time". Mitsotakis underlined that his government was elected in July with an absolute majority and a clear mandate to bring the country back to growth. "We are a government fully committed to implementing the necessary reforms that will 'unlock' the real potential of this country, while you have all those features that can make Greece a real success story," the prime minister said. He also referred to the negative borrowing rates Greece had a few days ago, which - as he pointed out - had been unthinkable until a year ago.
"The markets have responded positively to our message, we have unlocked big investments, such as the former Hellinikon airport. The government has already legislated significant tax cuts and the simplification of licensing procedures, real estate prices are expected to rise by more than 10 pct annually, tourism is performing well and unemployment is at its lowest levels in recent years," he added.
"It is therefore not surprising that the economy is expected to grow at a rate of almost 3 pct in 2020. It may sound low on the basis of Chinese data, but based on European data, it is one of the highest rates in the eurozone," the premier pointed out.
Mitsotakis praised China's contribution to Greece's efforts during the years of economic crisis and estimated that the economic ties between the two countries could be further developed.
China invested in Greece when others avoided doing so, he said. "Cosco's investment in the port of Piraeus is an example of a company that dared to invest in Greece, when others considered it unthinkable," he said, noting that what Greece now needs, more than ever, is investment capital. He referred to the geopolitical position of Greece, saying that it favours cooperative business activities.
On shipping, he said that over the past 15 years, Greek shipowners have built more than 1,000 ships in Chinese shipyards, an investment that exceeds 50 billion dollars.
On tourism, he stressed that Greece's goal is that Chinese tourists to Greece should reach half a million by 2021, stressing the importance of the existing direct air links between Athens and the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai, which will be launched by the summer of 2020.