Italy now views Chinese investment capital as one of the driving forces behind its own economic growth, saying China is its most important foreign investment source besides the European Union (EU).
InvestinItaly, a government institute set up jointly by SviluppoItalia and the Italian Trade Commission, has launched a program this year aimed at helping Chinese investors get a better understanding of Italy's business environment, its taxation system, corporation laws and economic development.
Sponsors of the program have promised to offer Chinese companies timely assistance in project evaluation, management of public relations and business development.
Giampaolo Russo, director of the Business Invitation Department of InvestinItaly, told a visiting delegation of Chinese journalists recently: "Channeling money into Italy will allow Chinese firms to penetrate fast into North Europe, Middle East and Africa."
Italy is in dire need of foreign investment to boost its economy. In 2005, Italy's gross domestic product registered near-zero growth, and statistics from Italy's foreign exchanges authorities show the country's inward foreign direct investment only accounted for 1.2 percent of its GDP last year, much lower than the average of 4.3 percent for EU members.
Currently, about 30 Chinese firms have established a presence in Italy with their investment mainly channeled to the sector of wholesales, logistics, automobile, mechanical equipment, telecommunications, consumer products and chemical industry.