Greece has been making strides in becoming an international freight center, due to its strategic location, recovering economy and improved investment environment. Since the first edition of this survey was published in 2017, Greece has continued to make progress in this area.

However, the Greek transport and logistics industry (T&L) has made the most progress in the shipping and maritime logistics industries, as well as in road infrastructure. More work is needed in rail and air freight transport, hinterland logistics, the third-party logistics market (3PL), customs services and, most importantly, the interconnectivity of these different nodes of the T&L industry.

The shipping and maritime logistics industry is steadily on the rise 

Shipping is one of the strongest sectors of the Greek economy, contributing around €11 billion – or 6.6% of the country’s GDP – in 2019. The Greek-owned merchant fleet is the largest in the world, accounting for 15.6% of the global fleet in deadweight tonnage (DWT), while vessels controlled by Greeks carry 21% of global seaborne trade.

The strong presence of Μεταφορές από Αγγλία Ελλάδα companies and the leading position of the Greek-owned fleet in the global maritime community have been the major drivers behind the development of Greece as one of the most significant and competitive maritime centers in the world. The majority of Greek shipowners have a ship management office or operate their business from Greece, and in spite of the growing international competition from emerging maritime centers, they continue to be successful.

Piraeus is a highly competitive end-to-end alternative connection to the ports of the Far East, compared to North European ports, in terms of transport duration, frequency of service and cost. This makes it an ideal maritime interface for Europe, especially at a time when trade flows between Asia and Europe continue to grow year after year.

Piraeus is one of the most rapidly growing ports in Europe. In 2019 and 2020, it was the largest commercial port in the Mediterranean and the fourth largest among all European ports in terms of total container throughput, despite the pandemic’s adverse effects on global trade. The vision of turning Piraeus into the south gate of Europe is backed by a series of planned investments within the next years, aiming at improving infrastructure and achieving better integration with the railway and road networks, transforming the port into a state-of-the-art logistics hub.

The Greek third-party logistics market still faces many challenges

The 3PL market in Greece has been under a lot of pressure since the economy took a severe downturn in 2009. Although it’s been slowly rebounding since 2014, it hasn’t quite recovered to its pre-financial crisis numbers. The turnover for Greek 3PLPs has had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -2.06% between 2008 and 2019, but there’s been a +3.55% CAGR since 2014.

The decrease in consumption and production, as well as the slow growth of international trade, has put a lot of pressure on Greek manufacturers and traders to lower their costs without reducing performance or service levels. However, they have also become more positive about outsourcing their basic logistics operations, allowing reliable 3PLPs that have invested in service quality and innovation to expand their market share and improve their performance. The Greek 3PL market grew by 4.6% in 2019 and is expected to grow at an annual average rate of 2.8% in the medium term (up to 2023).

The Thriasio Logistics Center headlines a series of major logistics projects in the country

The most important logistics markets in Greece are centered around Athens and Thessaloniki, and they are closely linked to the country’s two main international maritime ports: Piraeus and Thessaloniki.

The new intermodal freight and logistics park in the ThriasioPedio plain near Piraeus will significantly improve the port’s hinterland and enable the development of new operations and added-value logistics services. Thriasio will be one of the largest dry ports in Southeast Europe when fully developed.