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Speech by Ambassador Zou Xiaoli at the Opening Session of Forums hosted by China Chamber of International Commerce with China Being the Honoured Country of the 82nd Thessaloniki International Fair
2017-09-11

 

 

Your Excellency, Mr. Giorgos Stathakis, Minister of Environment and Energy,

Your Excellency, Mr. Pitsiorlas, Deputy Minister of Economy and Development,

Your Excellency, Mr. Zhang Wei, Vice-Chairman of the China Chamber of International Commerce,

Mr. Ling Wen, CEO of Shenhua Group,

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

The Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) is not only a platform for the exhibitionshowcasingabout the exhibition of of commodities and technologies, but also a good opportunity for the exchangess of ideas and to for promoteing cooperation. I am delighted to have this opportunity to attend the forum and share with you my views and suggestions on economic and trade cooperation between our two countries.

While working in Greece, the questions put to me most frequently are revolve around the achievements of China-Greece cooperation, its prospects, and the priorities of future cooperation. In my view, the deep down, essence of all these questions is essentially about have to do with confidence, which can originate only from concrete results of our cooperation. We need concrete results from our cooperation to enhance confidence, overcome difficulties and challenges, and open broader prospects for cooperation. Looking back at the track record of bilateral trade cooperation in recent years, I think three things are most importantwe can draw three major conclusions.

First, our two countries have aligned our their development strategies. China’s “Belt and Road” Initiative have has much in common with Greece’s strategyies for economic revitalization. China supports Greece to become a regional hub for shipping, transportation, energy, and services, and Greece is ready to play a crucialpositive role in regional connectivity. The alignment of the development strategies enables our two sides to plan cooperation from a long-term and overall perspective.

Second, investment in the Port of Piraeus by COSCO Shipping has generated sound beneficial economic, political and social effects. The COSCO’s Piraeus project has not only become a “dragon head” for practical cooperation between China and Greece, but also a paradigm of mutually beneficial cooperationcollaboration between China and Europe, and has won international recognition.

Third, through holding the year of China-Greece Maritime Cooperation, the forum on maritime cooperation, the year of China-Greece Cultural Exchanges and Cultural Industry Cooperation, the “Ancient Civilizations Forum”, and the China-Hellenic Cities Forum, and the soon-to-open direct flight between Beijing and Athens, we have succeeded in buildingt up a series of innovative platforms and better conditions for the exchanges and cooperation between the business communities and people of the two countries. China-Greece economic and trade cooperation cannot could not have come so far without the arduous tireless efforts of people of from all walks of life in the two countries.

In May this year, during Prime Minister Tsipras’ visit to China for the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the the two Governments signed the a 3-year plan for investment cooperation and established a steering committee for investment cooperation cooperation, which was unprecedented in our 45 years of diplomatic relations. However, we should also keep in mind that at the end of the day, the continuous expansion and deepening of economic cooperation depends on market demands and business efforts.

So, how should businesses of the two countries proceed with cooperation in the future? In my view, first of all, they should, first of all, use take advantage of every single opportunity to enhance mutual understanding. When compared with other European countries, China-Greece economic cooperation is still at the its initial stages, despite its rapid progressgrowth. Chinese businesses lack understanding about about the comparative advantages of the Greek market, industries, products, as well as the rules and regulations that apply in Greece. Many small and medium enterprises in Greece feel overwhelmed by the size, complexity and distance of the Chinese market. Therefore, we should encourage trade-promotion agencies, chambers of commerce, and competentcapable enterprises to organize trips to each other, host forums and seminars, and thus make business exchanges of the two countries a norm. It is my ardent hope that COSCO Shipping, State Grid, Shenhua Group, Huawei, and ZTE, i.e. the Chinese business giants that have already entered the Greek market, to will play a leading role in this respect.

Second, the businesses communities of the two countries should forge synergies, improve the comprehensive benefits of investment, and promote economic development in more extensive areas to the benefitadvantage of the peoples of the our two countries. The COSCO Piraeus project has not only increased the number of containers handled in the port, but has also led helped the development growth of cruise ship businesstourism, ship-building and repair, and logistics services in the local area, as well as bringing job growth. In other prioritized fields of investment cooperation, such as energy, telecommunications, and transport infrastructure, it is also possible to see the inter-relatedinterconnected development of relevant industries. It is my sincere wish that bilateral cooperation will extend expand to the manufacturing sector and high-tech sectors in the near future. I am happy to note that the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) is also present at TIF and I am hopeful that to strengthen bilateral cooperation in civil aviation to build Greece into a regional aviation hub should not remain a dream.

Third, businesses of the two countries should bear in mind a the larger picture, and set and ambitious goals in order to work with other players in the region for common development. Greece has always been at the crossroads linking the East with the West, the North with the South. It isToday it now is situated at the cross pointpoint where of the Maritime Silk Road and the Silk Road on Land converge. The rRevitalization and development of Greece is beneficial for and indispensable from for prosperity and stability of in the Balkans, Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa. The enterprises Businesses of the two countries should make the best use of TIF, and widely engage with businesses of the region, especially in the ares fields of energy, telecommunications, and transport infrastructure, with a view to promoting connectivity and economic integration of in the region. Today’s Forums are a very good beginningstarting point.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

In recent years, China and Greece have made scored important achievements in our cooperation in the spirit of mutual respect and understanding for the benefit of both sides. Today, Greece is playing an increasingly important role in safeguarding regional peace and promoting common growth, and has become an important contributor to the development of the “Belt and Road”. China-Greece comprehensive strategic partnership is now entering a new stage of development. We should be highly confident, seize the opportunities, redouble our efforts, and elevate mutually-beneficial cooperation to a new levels for the benefit of peoples of the our two countries.

Thank you all!

 

 

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