On a roll, the Greek government is hoping that Eurozone officials on May 13 will approval release of more loans as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras readies for a five-day trip to China beginning two days later in a bid to woo investment and tourists.
Samaras, not having to worry about the same kind of social unrest against austerity that brought down the previous government of George Papandreou, the former PASOK Socialist leader, hopes to also promote Greece as a “bridge” to Western Europe for the booming Asian economy.
Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras will be in Brussels awaiting the okay on a delayed 4.2 billion euros ($5.45 billion) loan tranche that was given an initial approval after the government implemented more reforms demanded by the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB). Stournaras may face questions, however, why some have are still stalled. That could call into question for now an upcoming installment of 3.3 billion euros ($4.28 billion) due later in the year.
Samaras will leave those matters in Stournaras’ hands as he heads for China with an entourage of government officials, privatization fund leaders and businesse executives. The premier harbors high hopes for his five-day visit to China, which will include talks with Chinese government officials and entrepreneurs.
Samaras is the second European leader, after French President Francois Hollande, to be invited to Beijing by the country’s new political leadership and seen by Greek officials as a promising sign for Greece and its hopes to boost trade ties with China. The Chinese have reportedly expressed particular interest in the tourism sector with Chinese travel agencies reportedly anxious to offer more Greek packages.
There is also said to be strong Chinese interest in Greek regional ports and airports following the successful investment by shipping firm Cosco in the cargo terminals of Piraeus. The strengthening of business ties between Greece and China come amid reports that several American and European investors – businesses and hedge funds – are planning strategic moves in the Greek market.