ATHENS Hewlett Packard will transport its goods across Europe, the Middle East and Africa through Greece's biggest port, the Greek government said on Wednesday, after a deal with China's Cosco Pacific that Athens hopes will attract investors and bolster cargo business at its commercial docks.
The agreement is expected to take effect at the end of the year, the government said. Cosco Pacific, one of the world's biggest container terminal operators, signed a deal with Greece in 2008 to run a pier at the state-owned Piraeus port. HP is the world's largest manufacturer by sales of personal computers.
The conservative-led government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has made investment and growth a priority since taking over in June. Greece is battling its biggest economic downturn in six decades.
Samaras hailed the deal as "a vote of confidence in Greece in this effort we are undertaking today to revive the Greek economy."
"It reaffirms the role our country can play on the global business map," he said after meeting representatives of both companies and the shipping and development ministers.
In 2011 more than 20 million passengers and 1.7 million containers passed through Piraeus, the country's busiest port and a gateway to Eastern Europe, according to the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP).
The Development Ministry, which announced the preliminary agreement, did not place a value on the deal but said it could increase local cargo business at Piraeus by 50 percent. It is also expected to create hundreds of jobs, the ministry said.
HP's merchandise would be distributed by sea through the Cosco terminal and by land though Greece's Trainose, the monopoly that operates 500 freight and passenger routes on 2,500 km (1,550 miles) of railways, the ministry said.
(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris and Renee Maltezou; Editing by Toni Reinhold)