Foreign and Military Affairs

China, Italy sign deals worth $3.3b

Updated: 2011-06-04 08:06

By Fu Jing and Cheng Guangjin (China Daily)

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ROME/BEIJING - Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi witnessed the signing of a series of deals worth $3.3 billion after their meeting on Friday.

Among the 16 agreements, 14 were signed by China Development Bank, China National Petroleum Cooperation, Huawei, Guangzhou Auto and other Chinese companies with Italian companies, covering areas including telecommunications, medicine, finance, automobiles and new energy.

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The other two agreements were on scientific research cooperation and innovation.

Xi is currently on a four-day visit to Italy on the occasion of the country's celebration of its 150th anniversary as a unified state.

He also met Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on Friday, who said Italy is willing to enhance ties with China, which is not only a market for Italy, but also a dialogue partner on global political issues.

China is a respected partner and Italy attaches great importance to China's economic potential, said Frattini, who will visit China in July.

Tao Jingwen, president of Huawei's West Europe Region, told China Daily after the signing ceremony that the company signed contracts worth $1.3 billion with Telecom Italia and Linkem, accounting for more than one-third of the total value of all the deals.

Under the contracts, Huawei will provide a five-year broadband service to Italy and sell telecommunication equipment worth about $360 million to the country, he said.

Over the past 10 years, Huawei has offered about 3,000 job opportunities to Europeans and purchased equipment worth about $300 million from companies in the European Union, said Tao.

Xi's visit will take bilateral ties to a new level, said Zhao Junjie, a Beijing-based senior researcher of European studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"China has shown the importance it attaches to ties with Italy, and Italy has also expressed its willingness for more practical cooperation with China," Zhao said. "Italy will become another key partner of China in Europe."

China and Italy established diplomatic ties in 1970, and in recent years the two countries have become important trade partners.

China is Italy's 10th largest trading partner, while Italy is China's fourth-biggest trading partner in the EU.

The bilateral trade volume between China and Italy is expected to reach $80 billion by 2015, almost double the $45.1 billion in 2010.

Currently, more than 2,500 Italian companies have invested in China.

According to Zhao, high-tech cooperation will be a source of more economic benefits for both countries in the future.

Xinhua News Agency contributed to this story.


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