Business / Economy

Italian business world eyes opportunities in China's Hunan

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-06-19 11:24

SARONNO - After establishing solid ties with China's most renowned cities in the past years, the Italian business world now wants to explore the markets of diverse provinces of China, and the ongoing world exposition in business capital Milan is a right occasion.

On Thursday, representatives of more than 100 companies of automobile, food, clothing and other sectors from China's Hunan province met their Italian counterparts. The trade forum held in Saronno, a town near Milan in northern Italy's Lombardy region, was also attended by Hunan and local authorities including newly launched Lombardy-China Association.

"Also due to the recent economic crisis, there is big demand among Italian companies to go abroad. They ask themselves where it is best to go, and that is why we are here," Pasquale Catalfamo, Vice President of API Varese, a local small and medium-sized business association, told Xinhua.

Catalfamo, who runs a company in the automobile sector, said he entered the Shanghai and Beijing markets in the past. "But I must say that in recent years other cities, once unknown in Italy but very important in China, have become fundamental for certain businesses, like Chengdu for the automobile business just to make an example," he added.

Hunan, Catalfamo went on saying, is also an optimal choice. "It is close to big economic centers of China and has a well-developed transportation system leading to every place in the world, which is fundamental from the point of view of business logistics," he noted.

Noemio Bacci is the owner of an Italian extra virgin olive oil company, Azienda Agricola Bacci Noemio, which has achieved many quality awards including the 2010 BIOL international prize as best organic oil in the world. "I am here today because China is a huge country and I want to better know its different provinces with their different markets that are growing so fast, like Hunan," he told Xinhua.

In fact Hunan's rapid development has attracted more and more business people, He Baoxiang, Vice Governor of the People's Government of Hunan Province, said at the forum. Among world top 500 enterprises, he noted, 135 have located and hired in Hunan.

He said Hunan has established the leading position in international markets in many fields such as medium-high-end engineering machinery, electric traction rail transit equipment and new energy equipment, and had frequent cooperation with Italy over the years.

By the end of last month, Italy has 48 investment projects in Hunan, with contracted investment fund of $716 million.

About 70 percent of Italian enterprises in Hunan engage in the manufacture industry.

For example, the automobile manufacturing industry represented by GAC Fiat Automobiles Co Ltd, an automobile manufacturing joint venture headquartered in Hunan's capital Changsha between GAC Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), is exactly a cooperation model, said Virgilio Cerutti, Vice President of Business Development of FCA.

Some of Hunan's enterprises had a very successful development in Italy. Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science and Technology Co Ltd in 2008 acquired Italy's Compagnia Italiana Forme Acciaio SpA (CIFA).

Recently, Zoomlion purchased 75 percent equity of Italian Ladurner Corporation by allying with Mandarin Capital Partners private equity firm.

New intents were signed on Thursday between Hunan and local counterparts. "What I have observed is that relations between the Chinese and Italian business worlds have become more concrete and focused on precise programs often at the provincial and regional level," Li Yongping, President of Maylink Culture Development Corporation, a Chinese consulting and e-business company, told Xinhua after signing an agreement for the promotion of Hunan firms abroad and the made-in-Italy products in Hunan.

The improved bilateral knowledge is also part of deepening implementation of the "One belt, One road" strategy, Li noted, started by the Chinese government in 2013 to boost transport infrastructure building, investment and trade facilitation, financial cooperation and cultural exchanges between Asia, home of the second largest economy in the world China, and Europe.

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