* the cargo volume is now three times the level of two years ago
* the Greek state collected 500 BEUR as a sales price (*)
* the Greek state collects more income taxes as a result of the business pick-up
* Cosco now spends 388 BEUR to modernize the dock (*)
* Cosco allegedly receives ‘thousands of applications’ from Greeks interested to work for them
(*) I have gotten so used to talking in terms of billions that I overlooked the fact that sometimes there are still only millions. As readers have pointed out below, the numbers should obviously read 500 MEUR as a sales price and 388 MEUR to modernize the dock
The unions of the other half of the port which is still being owned by the state accuse Cosco of using employment subcontractors that hire temporary, unskilled, nonunion workers desperate for jobs and exploit them by paying low wages. Also, they accuse Cosco of saving money by cutting corners on worker safety. “They are bringing third-world labor standards to Europe”, one comment says. “If you are a worker for Cosco, then you know suddenly how it is to work in the Chinese Republic”, says another one. I cannot judge this.
This story reinforces two of the major points of my blog: Greece needs foreign investment and Special Economic Zones.
The primary aspect about foreign investment should not be the one-time financial gain on the sale. Instead, it should be about chosing the right foreign investor and getting know-how transfer in all areas, not only in technology (e. g. know-how transfer in management and corporate governance), as well as new investments.
Special Economic Zones serve to allow foreign investors to run their operations at internationally competitive terms. That may be a designated geographic zone where foreigners are invited to make new investments but it can also be, as Cosco shows, the case of an already existing individual company where the foreign investor is given the freedom to run the operation as he knows a successful operation must be run.
How the cargo volume at Cosco could be tripled in 2 years while the rest of the country was in depression is a mystery to me. However, it goes to show that the Greek economy does have potential if only it were tapped in appropriate fashion. Just imagine the result if there had been a few hundred foreign investments in the last 2 years! And one other thing: success stories rub off on others! It would be interesting to know if some of the ‘thousands of applications’ which Cosco gets come from the other half of the port which is still owned by the state, controlled by unions and where employees are paid more.
Last point: it would be good for national morale if one didn’t have to go all the way to the NYT to read about such Greek success stories…