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Posidonia 2014 Maritime Exhibition opens in Athens

ATHENS, June 2 (Xinhua) -- "Posidonia 2014", one of the largest and prestigious maritime exhibitions internationally, was inaugurated in Athens on Monday evening by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

In his address, Samaras praised the sector's major contribution to ongoing efforts to pull Greece and the world out from the current economic crisis.

Over the next five days more than 19,000 visitors are expected to stop by the stands of a total of 1,850 exhibitors from 93 countries and territories which participate in the biennial event this year, setting a new participation record in the exhibition's five decades history.

At the Metropolitan Expo Center next to the Greek capital's International Airport representatives of the global maritime community will showcase their achievements, exchange views on the most challenging issues and emerging trends as well as explore investment opportunities and clinch cooperation deals.

"We are relaunching our country starting from the sea," Samaras said addressing the opening ceremony which was attended by several Greek and foreign dignitaries.

Along with Greeks the entire international shipping community is set to sail full speed ahead, he stressed.

The economic potential of the Greek commercial fleet and the strategic positioning of Greece in future world commerce are gaining power by the day, Samaras noted.

The Greek fleet today is operating 15 percent in world commerce. Shipping accounts for approximately seven percent of Greece's GDP, while providing employment to 192,000 people.

In the last ten years, Greek ship-owners have built more than 2,500 ocean-going ships, mainly in Asian shipyards. A new vessel of Greek ownership is being built every two days worldwide, Samaras underlined.

With the Greek fleet's ongoing expansion and modernization strategy, shipping service and product providers from all sectors of the industry are queuing for meetings with Greek ship owners and other delegates during the exhibition.

Once again China has the biggest national presence at Posidonia among national pavilions. The Greek premier visited some of the impressive stands with Chinese ambassador to Greece Zou Xiaoli on Monday evening.

"Posidonia 2014 marks a new start point for the maritime cooperation between China and Greece," Zou told Xinhua, pointing to more Chinese companies in wider fields participating in the exhibition with advanced technologies and equipments.

Shipping can become a key driver of economic recovery at national level as well as in the context of global prosperity and welfare, the President of the Union of Greek Ship owners Theodore Veniamis said.

"I believe that Greece's know-how, the Greek ship owners and the long tradition we have in shipping can easily pave ways towards growth and prosperity," Penelope Monastiriotou, Executive Administrative Assistant of Spanopoulos Group, a Greek firm with over 30 years of experience in the marine and offshore field, told Xinhua.

During its second participation in Posidonia the company which operates two shipyards in Greece, providing a wide range of services, will seek partnerships with foreign visitors, including Chinese.

Paul Holland, Managing Director of Wahoo Ribs Limited, a British manufacturer of super yachts and one of Spanopoulos' strategic partners, participates in Posidonia for the first time this year invited by the Greek firm to join in.

Wahoo Ribs Limited is mainly working in the Mediterranean Sea for years and is now looking to expand further to the globe. Holland expects that his presence in Athens will pave the ground.

"We hope to meet a few interesting people and possibly look on how we can move on to the rest of the world," he told Xinhua. Asked whether he hopes to reach the Chinese market, he said "that would be good, that would be nice."

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