EBRD: China capitalizing on Greek energy market openings

A European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) report monitoring China’s investments in Europe, whose findings on Greece were presented in Athens yesterday, notes that China, sensing market opportunities, has been able to enter the Greek market after being permitted to do so by European authorities, However, the country is now facing tightening conditions being engineered by the EU, the report mildly suggests.

The EBRD report, authored by Dr. Jens Bastian and funded by the Central European Initiative, an intergovernmental forum committed to supporting European intergration through cooperation among member states, details China’s aggressive investment approach in Greece and places particular emphasis on the local energy sector.

Attention is paid to Greece’s role in China’s wider plans. The report describes Greece as a gateway for Chinese investments in the wider Balkan region. China’s strategy, continuously bolstering the country’s standing abroad, has cultivated aspirations for the Balkan and central European markets, the EBRD report notes.

It also notes that Chinese investors, contrary to other interested parties, have made the most of the subdued investment activity in Greece and shown a willingness to take risks and pursue long-term business strategies.

The EBRD report also points out that reliable ties have been established between Chinese investors and Greece’s political and business communities. As a result, Chinese investors are now placed in the pole position for Greek projects, it notes.

Reference is made to two major Chinese energy-related moves in Greece. One concerns the interest of the China Development Bank (CDB) to reinforce its presence in Greece, primarily through financing energy sector projects, as has been pointed out by the bank’s chief, Hu Huaibang. CDB and the Bank of Greece recently signed a memorandum of cooperation.

The recent entry of SGCC (State Grid Corporation of China) into IPTO, Greece’s power grid operator, as a strategic partner with a 24 percent, is also presented in the report. This agreement ranked as the second largest investment to be made in Greece in 2016. Another Chinese investment, Cosco’s takeover of the Piraues Port Authority (OLP), topped the list.