As Greece struggles through a crushing economic crisis, some of the products for which it is best known are taking a bigger hold in China, with a 269.1 percent increase in exports in the first quarter of the year, a saving grace for Greek companies. China has jumped from the 34th-biggest market for Greek exports to 13th.
The most popular items were olive oil, dairy goods and bread and bakery product, showing considerable growth prospects at a time when many Greek businesses are closing because of the crisis and harsh austerity measures that have made Greeks nearly cease non-critical spending. Other big sellers were cotton, medicine, fish, steel rods and electricity.
Food industry analysts have repeatedly said that Greek producers should best target middle-to-high income earners in China who have the means to buy imported goods and are willing to pay for it. But the Hellenic Export Promotion Organization (HEPO) said the big jump in the first quarter brought in only $144.3 million, showing the potential for growth. Virgin olive oil exports came to $1.48 million, making China Greece’s seventh-largest olive oil customer, after a 79 percent increase to 5,900 tons in 2011.
According to Greece’s Economic and Commercial Affairs Bureau in Shanghai, Greek wine exports to China rose 285 percent last year, to $1.95 million. France is by far the largest wine exporter to China, with a 48 percent share, followed by Australia and Chile.
China has made big investments in Greece during the debt crisis and several trade deals were signed when the head of China’s National Consultative Assembly, Jia Qinglin, and Deputy Trade Minister Zhong Shan visited last year. The Piraeus port authority (OLP) has a concession agreement with Chinese global shipping giant Cosco which runs two of the port’s container terminals. The Greek government, which is struggling to reduce a huge debt burden, has announced plans to sell a major part of its 75-percent stake in the company.
Chinese companies have also been eyeing investments in sectors such as telecommunications, bank services, the automobile industry, railroad equipment, real estate, brewery, electronics, clothing and glassware, the Economic Times of India reported.