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The Belt and Road Initiative to support the Italian Stock Exchange in Milan

September 30, 2021

Abstract : During an interview, Liu Kan, new Consul General of the PRC in Milan, explained that northern Italy plays a decisive role for the relations with Beijing. Chinese companies are ready to join Italy's National Recovery and Resilience Plan and to cooperate with Milan for 2026 Winter Olympic Games.

MILAN, Sept. 30 (Class Editori) -- Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto and Piedmont are the main exporters to China. "Northern Italy represents the economic driving force of the country and Milan plays a central role in Italian economy while being a well-known fashion and design hub. Therefore, several Chinese enterprises chose this city to establish their headquarters in Italy," Liu Kan, new Consul General of the PRC in Milan, explained to MF-Milano Finanza. Today China is the largest trading partner in Asia for Italy, which is the fourth for China in the EU instead. During the first seven months of 2021, bilateral trade volume exceeded 41.1 billion dollars (+41.2%), with a further growth expected after the recent establishment of China-Italy Chamber of Commerce and of the express freight train of the Beijing Trans-Eurasia International Logistics route headed to Milan.

Question: In what sectors could economic and cultural exchange between Milan, northern Italy and China strengthen in the near future?

Answer: Milan is Italy's economic hub and plays a major role in its cultural industry as well. Salone del Mobile, Fashion Week and Design Week attracted several Chinese brands and firms and the will to cooperate has not been affected by the pandemic but, on the contrary, Milan was chosen to host 2026 Winter Olympic Games, after Beijing 2022. Hopefully, the event will be safe and impactful and therefore collaboration is paramount in sports, industrial and human terms. Italy records great results in ice and snow sports, and I believe there will be several cooperation opportunities. Moreover, 2022 will be China-Italy Year of Culture and Tourism and therefore the two countries are working to organize and promote linked activities, hoping to pave the way for mutual travel and knowledge in order to increasingly foster development also as concerns cultural relations. As Chinese President Xi Jinping stated, over the last fifty years China and Italy always stood out for their mutual respect and trust with advantages for both the countries. Cooperation in fighting COVID-19 proved the efficiency of the saying "a friend in need is a friend indeed". Italy plays a global key role in several fields thanks to leading companies active in science, technology, innovation, culture, health and aerospace sectors. It is essential to seize all the opportunities of the post-pandemic recovery by benefiting from the potential of the partnership of the Belt and Road Initiative with political dialogue, infrastructural links, fluent trade, fund flows and human interchange.

Q. China is changing its development model, what direction is the country taking?

A. China, with its 1.4 billion inhabitants, is the biggest developing country and, thanks to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, became the second largest economy worldwide while eradicating absolute poverty. Currently, we are working on preventing the spread of the pandemic and on recovering; therefore, in this new phase, China is relying on a new development model based on innovation, coordination, environmental respect, opening and sharing with other countries. This model considers both international and national growth: at a domestic level, China is betting on quality development by constantly improving its economic structure and environment-related aspects. At a global level, instead, Beijing keeps following its reform and opening plan in order to boost economic globalization.

Q. This plan includes Hainan free trade zone, what can it offer to the Milan-based luxury industry?

A. Nowadays, our country is the world's major importer and exporter of goods, its market has the highest potential, with more than 400 million middle-class citizens, and covers one third of the global luxury market. The free trade zone was launched in April 2018 as an international tourism consumption hub and mainly focuses on duty free and commercial freedom. After the outbreak of the pandemic, China's luxury product import from Italy grew, unlike in the rest of the world, and most of these goods comes from Milan and is headed to Hainan, which kept receiving Made-in-Italy luxury items. In last May, the China International Consumer Products Expo attracted nearly 1,500 companies from about 70 countries, thus establishing itself as an important platform for high-end brands interested in entering Hainan  market. There were 56 Italian companies, and I hope more and more Milanese luxury brands will participate in this exhibition with their products.

Q. Milan is focused on being a European financial hub. What do you think about possible links with the Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges encouraging Chinese companies to list in Italy?

A. China and Italy signed a MoU on the New Silk Road in 2019. The project also includes financial aspects, so it aims to enhance cooperation in this area. Last year, Italy's Monte Titoli joined the Belt and Road Initiative interbank cooperation system initiated by ICBC. Therefore, we believe that with the development of financial cooperation promoted by BRI, the Italian Stock Exchange in Milan will achieve increasingly satisfying results towards China. Moreover, the Consulate is at the disposal of Chinese companies that are interested in listing in Italy and that comply with the requirements.

Q. What synergies can be created between Milan, northern Italy and China's territorial areas or provinces?

A. Local cooperation plays an irreplaceable role in improving mutual knowledge, strengthening friendship and  promoting collaboration. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Milan and northern Italy have effectively cooperated with their Chinese counterparts against COVID-19, and we have witnessed unselfish shipments of a large number of medical supplies by both countries. China sent three teams of experts to support Italian doctors, one of them in Milan itself, where they embodied unity to overcome the emergency. A further step has been taken with the recent town twinning between Wenzhou and Turin: currently, our consular district covers four regions of northern Italy and the number of twinned towns in these territories is more than a third of the total number of Sino-Italian sister cities. The Consulate General wants to keep promoting cooperation between Milan and northern Italy and Chinese provinces and cities, in order to strengthen economic, trade, cultural and medical relations towards the creation of a world health community.

Q. China is showing renewed interest in investing in Europe. What role can Italy play?

A. Mutual benefit is the principle that drives China's foreign investment. Chinese and European economies are complementary and highly compatible, and Europe has always been a major destination for Chinese enterprises. In the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, economic and trade cooperation plays an essential role. Chinese companies are not only attracted by investments in the more traditional sectors, but also willing to take an active part in Italy's National Recovery and Resilience Plan by exploring opportunities for cooperation in the sustainability, digital and health sectors in order to promote mutual benefits and win-win results. For some time, economic globalization has encountered several opponents with unilateralism and protectionism increasing, and we have witnessed different cases of abuse of the concept of national security protection to prevent some enterprises from normally growing. Despite difficulties, Chinese firms follow the principles guiding the international market by promoting win-win relations and upholding the importance of independent business decision making. Their determination to participate in global development and collaboration remains unchanged. They hope that Europe can provide a good business environment, transparent rules and systems and non-discriminatory treatment, thus protecting the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese-funded enterprises and creating conditions for normal production and operation across the continent. I support the rapid entry into force of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, in order to lay a solid foundation for investment cooperation.

Q. Beijing has decided to make itself better known in the world. What can the media do?

A. China aims to make itself better know and to show everyone its true, multifaceted and multidimensional reality, which is also the desire of many people around the world. The role of the media as a bridge between different countries is particularly important in the current pandemic framework. With the rapid IT development, they will increasingly be able to convey China's positions and views through its images and voices, by presenting to western audiences an image of peaceful and responsible growth of this great country with millennial culture in a more pleasant and lively way. We hope that Chinese and Italian media will strengthen cooperation in this regard, thus contributing to consolidate friendly relations.

(Source:Class Editori)

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Keyword: China-Italy Chamber of Commerce express freight train


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