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A growing friendship

By Alexis Hooi | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-12-21 08:42
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Claudio Frixione attends a liquor industry event in Shanghai in August. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Nicaraguan businessman in China taps improving international relationship to promote the Central American country's agricultural bounty.

Two of the first few things about Nicaraguan Claudio Frixione that amaze his Chinese contacts are his birthplace and school.

"They're always very interested in the hospital where I was born, the school I attended, because those places are owned by the company I work for," Frixione, 26, says.

Frixione, an employee of Flor de Cana, Nicaragua's award-winning rum, received free medical care and education from the parent company of the 133-year-old brand because his parents were also its employees.

"My father worked for the company for more than 40 years and my mother for 20-plus years before retiring, so I was 'raised' in the company, and I finished my high school at the school of the company; you can say our family is closely linked to it," he says.

Frixione says that, as Asia-Pacific marketing manager for one of the biggest Nicaraguan brands, and the only Nicaraguan working in the field in China, he is also perfectly positioned to introduce his Central American country to Chinese friends and beyond.

"Nicaragua boasts quality agricultural products like its rum, cigars and coffee; its magnificent landscape includes volcanoes and lakes. They are all just waiting for more people to discover them," he says.

Frixione, who obtained a scholarship for his tertiary studies in Taiwan majoring in business administration, including a year learning the Chinese language, moved to Shanghai half a year ago.

He stands out among Nicaraguans not only for speaking fluent Mandarin, but also for having obtained a visa to work in the Chinese mainland.

"We see a lot of potential here for us …rum is something that you can enjoy with other Nicaraguan specialties, such as chocolate or even a good cigar," says Frixione, adding that increasingly affluent and savvy Chinese consumers who enjoy Scotch whisky and French cognac will also be able to experience premium rum through Nicaragua's offerings.

"The availability of all these products coming from Nicaragua to China can help people understand more about our culture," he says.

"For example, Nicaraguans, we have our unique drinking culture. At dining tables, it's our bottles of rum, it's not just for adding into cocktails at bars that many other people may be used to."

Latest developments in China-Nicaragua ties are set to fuel Frixione's optimism for growth — in August, the two sides inked a free-trade agreement offering mutually beneficial trade and investment cooperation.

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