BEIJING, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Greece was looking forward to building stronger ties with China as Athens made strides to rejuvenate its economy after years of recession, a Greek official said here on Tuesday.
In an interview with Xinhua, visiting Greek Vice Minister for Development and Competitiveness, Notis Mitarachi, said China was a "friend" and pointed to it having been the "top investment partner" during Greece's difficult years.
Greece is poised to exit the European Union (EU)-International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan program in 2014, with emerging optimism after an expected primary surplus in 2013, a lower-than-expected deficit, stabilizing employment, and positive trade balance in both goods and service.
Mitarachi, who arrived in Beijing Monday for a four-day visit, invited more Chinese tourists and those in business to discover the glamour and potential Greece has to offer. He listed Greek wine, agriculture products, and a strong energy sector as attractions for Chinese investors.
Lauding the fruitful joint project of Greece's Piraeus port, Mitarachi said his country welcomed more Chinese involvement as Athens proceeded this year to the full privatization of the port.
Under a 35-year concession deal, Chinese-owned COSCO subsidiary Piraeus Container Terminal launched operations at Pier II of Piraeus port in 2009, with a plan to turn it into a leading cargo terminal in the Mediterranean region.
"I think that (full privatization) will further increase efficiency, lead to new investment, and make it a very productive port" to help the Greek economy, said the vice minister.
China could also enter a bigger market through Greece as it was a gateway to Europe from the east, with railways, roads and airports becoming critical assets of the country with a lot of volume, said Mitarachi, who stressed that his country's EU membership and political stability were also important competitive advantages to attract Chinese -- both real estate investors and construction firms.
Greece now offers renewable five-year resident visas to foreigners who spend at least 250,000 euros (about 328,000 U.S. dollars) on residential real estate in the country.
"My visit to Beijing confirmed ... both the existence of opportunities and the desire of both Chinese and Greek companies and governments to take advantage of the opportunities," said the vice minister.