Athens Hilton Hotel
February 20, 2020
I am delighted to support the 11th Annual Capital Link Greek Shipping Forum, and to welcome so many of our friends and partners this year. Shipping and maritime is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Greek economy, and over the past decade, this event has built a global reputation as an important shipping and maritime forum, building ties among shipping professionals and industry leaders across the globe.
Leaders on both sides of the Atlantic are making a concerted effort to raise the bar for U.S.-Greece relations. Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ fantastically successful visit to Washington in January built on all the progress we’ve made in our relationship in recent years and set the stage for even more ambitious collaboration in 2020.
As I recently discussed with Maritime Affairs Minister Plakiotakis, the tempo of our bilateral cooperation in the maritime domain has increased dramatically, including in the defense and security sector with a number of recent ship visits including the USS Leyte Gulf to Piraeus and the USNS Carson City to Alexandroupoli, Syros, Piraeus, and Rhodes.
In December, I joined Minister for Development and Investment Georgiadis in celebrating the grand re-opening of the Neorion Syros Shipyard following Onex’s successful restructuring. The United States views Neorion as an important American investment in Greece – strategically, commercially, and symbolically – and we hope that Onex will be allowed to replicate its Syros success on a much larger scale in Elefsina.
We benefit greatly from working with Greece and its important ports, from our longstanding relationships at Souda Bay to our increased use of facilities like Alexandroupoli under the revised MDCA. I’m optimistic that 2020 is going to bring significant American investment in big-ticket privatization projects, starting with Alexandroupoli and Volos.
Our maritime relationship also touches significantly on the energy sector. LNG imports to Greece more than doubled in 2019. As LNG demand grows, Greek shippers are taking the lead in transporting U.S. LNG to global markets. Greeks are now the largest LNG ship owners, giving Greece a major role in the global LNG supply chain and reaffirming that Greek ship owners are leading innovators in the maritime industry.
Greece and the United States will continue to benefit from the strong relationship between our people, businesses, and governments, which will also strengthen Greece’s role as a pillar of stability and leading energy, transport, and commerce hub in Southeastern Europe.
It’s extremely exciting to work alongside my Greek private and public sector friends during this period of tremendous growth in the U.S.-Greece relationship. As we embark on new challenges and opportunities together in 2020, I wish you a successful forum and continued success in your business endeavors!