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Italy looks forward to increasing "alliances" with Chinese firms: Italian industry minister
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18:05, September 29, 2009

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Business ties between China and Italy keep growing even amid the current global economic downturn, and Italian companies are looking forward to increasing "alliances" with Chinese firms, Italian Industry Minister Claudio Scajola told Xinhua in an interview on Monday.

The economic crisis has in fact affected China less severely than Italy, said Scajola, resulting in a 9.3 percent reduction of Italian imports from China whereas Chinese imports from Italy have grown 2.8 percent compared to 2008, according to data from Italian Statistics' Office.

As a result, Italy's commercial deficit to China has dropped from 7.625 billion euros (about 11.13 billion U.S. dollars) in 2008 to 6.515 billion euros (9.51 billion dollars) in 2009.

Scajola attributes the positive development to the increased consumption of the Chinese people, and also to the Chinese government's adequate measures to achieve a commercial balance with its trading partners.

"Chinese economy has become more advanced, evolving from export-oriented to import-oriented," Scajola said.

According to him, China's domestic consumption rates are rising, and the new Chinese middle-high class wants Italian quality and brands in fashion, food, design and furniture, as well as industrial machinery.

Frequent high-level business exchanges and meetings also help to boost the commercial ties between the two countries, said Scajola.

In July, 300 Chinese entrepreneurs met with 500 Italian businessmen in Rome, with commercial deals worth two billion dollars worth sealed in the end, he said.

The Italian Institute for Foreign Trade in China, acting as a commercial liaison desk, also helped to bridge the business link between Italian and Chinese entrepreneurs, he added.

Stronger commercial ties have inevitably led to a strategic partnership. Scajola looks forward to increasing "alliances" between the Chinese and Italian firms.

"Chinese industrial progress has pushed industries in Italy to specialize, innovate and expand abroad, leading to significant changes in industrial organization, production and cultural identity," he said.

Chinese investments in Italy are also crucial, said he, especially during this period of economic slowdown.

"Our goal is to introduce to our Chinese friends the best of our excellencies, especially in the technological field," he said. Italy has cutting-edge aerospace and automotive industries, he explained.

The industry minister mentioned the purchase of Italian concrete giant CIFA S.p.A. by a Chinese company last year. "So farit's the biggest Chinese investment in all Europe," he said.

He also talked about a joint project between the Italian Industry Ministry and the Chinese Commerce Ministry to locate an Italian port to serve as a strategic hub for all Chinese goods entering Europe.


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