Li Keqiang

Greek PM Antonis Samaras meets Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in investment push

Athens seeking buyers for assets as Li Keqiang looks to Greece to fight EU trade protectionism

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 May, 2013, 4:48am


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Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met with Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Thursday, before the two leaders witnessed the signing of agreements in fields including shipping and telecommunications.

Samaras is in China seeking investment and trade deals to help revive his country's recession-battered economy.

His visit comes little over a week after the European Commission agreed to impose average import duties of 47 per cent on solar panels from China, a move it says is to guard against the dumping of cheap goods in Europe.

Yesterday Li asked Samaras to help head off the commission's protectionist measures on solar panels and telecoms equipment.

"China hopes Greece can play a positive role in the EU commission and urges the commission to cautiously use trade remedy measures, resolutely oppose protectionism and maintain … good relation[s] between China and the EU," Li told Samaras, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Samaras is travelling with dozens of businessmen and several ministers in a bid to attract Chinese buyers for Greek assets and products.

Chinese shipping giant Cosco is already credited with reviving the Greek port of Piraeus and Greece is seeking more foreign investors for state assets it is selling under the terms of its bailout.

China has overtaken Japan as the world's second-biggest economy and expects its companies will invest around US$500 billion overseas in coming years.

Greece has been beset by serious economic and social woes in recent years due to a crushing public debt, forcing it to accept an international bailout.

Its economy shrank 6.4 per cent in 2012 and has contracted by more than a fifth since 2008.

Samaras was greeted at the Great Hall of the People with military honours that included armed guards, a marching band and a 19-gun salute.

He also told Li the two countries share "common culture and values" based on their "ancient civilisations".

"Both our cultures have made significant contributions to the progress of humanity and with regards to language have made great contributions to humanity," he added.

Li said he expected the visit to strengthen relations.

"Your visit to China will help push forward political trust, real co-operation and cultural ties between Greece and China," the premier said.

Samaras also plans to visit Shanghai during his trip.

Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse