(China Daily 06/16/2012 page10)
China Investment Corporation is committed to discussing possible investment plans in Greece once a government is formed in the European nation after Sunday's election, said Greek business leaders.
The intention was expressed by China's sovereign wealth fund during a recent visit to Beijing by a delegation from the Hellenic-Chinese Chamber, which aims to promote the development of business and economic ties between Greece and China.
"I wish I could have a magic wand that would remove corruption and bureaucracy to attract overseas investors, especially those from China, once the new government is formed after Sunday's election," said Constantine Yannidis, president of the Athens-based chamber.
The chamber sent a five-member delegation to China last month to attract investment in Greece.
Aphrodite Bletas, vice-president of the chamber who led the delegation, said the meeting with the CIC was "crucial", and its President Lou Jiwei had expressed a willingness to invest in Greece once the new government is formed.
"China demonstrates extensive interest in investing in Greece," said Bletas
But she said due to the current political uncertainty, no concrete commitments have been made on specific projects.
"The outcome of the coming election is of significant concerns for Chinese investors. Discussions would be opened only after the election with the new government in place," said Bletas.
Though both sides didn't touch on specific projects, Greece has shown interest in cooperation on ports, airports, highways, high-speed railways and even real estate development.
CIC, China's $410-billion sovereign wealth fund, has cut its stock and bond investments in Europe as the risk of a eurozone breakup increases, said Lou.
He said that China was also unlikely to buy common eurozone bonds, should they eventually be sold as part of a resolution of the European debt crisis, as "the risk is too big, and the return is too low".
Yannidis said he strongly believes that the Greek people will be united amid such huge challenges. "Politicians should make the interests of the people and the nation their priority," said Yannidis.
Time is pressing for Greece, as the country needs to carry out structural reforms, rectify its investment laws and remove barriers and bureaucracy to attract foreign investors, he said.
Yannidis said Chinese investors have already expressed great interest in investing in Greece, which is believed to be a gateway to Europe.
Greece still needs up to a year to bring its economy onto the right track and restore market confidence.
"I hope Chinese investors have such patience and confidence in us," said Yannidis.
Tan Xuan contributed to the story.