How Cosco Expanded a Greek Port

ipiraeu001p4The Greek Port of Piraeus, located outside of Athens, struggled for decades. By the time of the 2008 financial crisis, ocean freight shipping to the port was minimal. That same year, Chinese-owned Cosco decided to buy the port. They overpaid about five times the price to make the purchase. Their plan was to improve the trade situation at the port and revitalize their struggling economy. When Cosco arrived at the port in 2009, the dockworkers formed a strike that lasted 6 weeks. The port suffered under the strike as 4,500 containers sat there for weeks. To end the strike, Cosco developed an agreement with the dockworkers that Cosco would operate their own terminal with their own workers. Currently, 1000 people now work at that terminal, although they earn less then the other dockworkers. The Wall Street Journal reported that a member of the Greek Parliament referred to it as a “worker’s ghetto.”

By 2014, Cosco transformed the port in Piraeus to one of the busiest in the entire region. They went from over 400,000 containers in 2008 to 3.16 million containers last year. They are also Europe’s most popular passenger harbor. Freight forwarders are rejoicing in how fast Cosco turned this port into a maritime success. Cosco also has plans for further expansion in the future. They want to build a third wharf and add additional cranes. Cosco projects that they will transport over 6 million containers by 2016, which will allow Piraeus to compete with the big three ports in Europe. Someday, Piraeus will be the shipping center of the Mediterranean region.

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