Business links to get a big fillip with Xi's visit

Updated: 2011-06-03 10:55

By Luo Hongbo (China Daily)

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Immense opportunities for China to enhance bilateral relations with EU

This year, China began to implement its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), while the European Union (EU) started its EU 2020 Strategy. Both these plans have much in common and their implementation will provide a new platform and cooperation opportunities for both China and the EU, and for China and Italy to deepen their comprehensive bilateral relationship.

Significantly, both the strategies have stressed on the need to develop a green economy. China's five-year plan, however, seeks to achieve a more balanced approach to growth and development, with more emphasis on environment and livelihoods.

China and Italy will invest more in clean energy development, which will be a great opportunity to further strengthen Sino-Italian economic and trade cooperation.

From 2000, both these nations have worked together on 100 environmental protection projects, and used the EU's advanced technology and management experience to deal with several of China's environment problems. The Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS) has invested 12.4 billion euros in environmental protection projects in China. These projects have also got direct and indirect investments of nearly 180 million euros from Chinese investors.

In 2009, the two nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Cooperation and outlined the priority areas of cooperation over the next five years.

Italy is also one of the most developed countries in renewable energy technologies. It is the leading nation for geothermal energy in Europe, while in wind power it is ranked seventh in the world. It is also one of the world's biggest investors in solar energy, an energy source that may soon be the largest in the world.

China and Italy are also expected to further intensify their cooperation in the field of environmental protection and renewable energy.

In terms of stimulating internal demand and the development of the central and western areas in China, both nations have great prospects for further economic and trade cooperation.

The 2011-2015 period will be an important period for China in maintaining its sustainable economic growth. Boosting domestic demand has become a cornerstone of the five-year plan and the development of the central and western areas are also quite important.

Italy is the world's seventh-largest economy, the eighth-largest trading nation and the eighth major exporter. As a large country for creativity and design, the country has a highly developed fashion industry with a group of the small and medium dynamic companies.

Italy also has advantages in the areas of aerospace, design and manufacturing of motor vehicles and agriculture. It will be a win-win situation for both nations if they step up cooperation in these sectors.

Both nations will over the next five years look to increase investment in each other. During the 12th Five-Year Plan, more and more Chinese companies will be encouraged to go abroad and it will surely increase the country's investment appetite in Italy.

At the same time, with China's improvement in intellectual property protection, more and more Italian enterprises will invest and build factories in China. To cater to the new scenario, Unicredit SpA, Italy's largest banking group, will launch a branch in Guangzhou during the second half of this year.

China and Italy will also work together to provide more financial services to support alliances between small and medium enterprises from both nations.

In short, the new Sino-Italian economic and trade cooperation will not only provide a new platform but also many opportunities. The road ahead is not smooth, but as long as the two sides can enhance communication and understanding toward each other and actively seek ways for cooperation, it will be win-win situation for both.

The author is the director of the Centre for Italian Studies at the Institute of European Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.


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