02/08/2007, 00.00
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Capitalia looking at new opportunities for Italy in China

Conference organised by Capitalia, an Italian banking group, and Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, indicates that food, agriculture and the environment are key areas for Sino-Italian cooperation. Sea transportation and services are also seen as additional areas.

Rome (AsiaNews) – China’s economy is reorganising and adjusting, but offers many investment opportunities to Italian companies, especially small- medium-size firms, this according to Wang Tongsan and Luo Hongbo, from Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Both scholars were invited to a conference held at the headquarters of Capitalia, Italy’s first banking group in China, chaired by Prof Paolo Savona, economics professor and publisher of Capitalia’s economic papers.

Following greetings by Bank Chairman Cesare Geronzi, Wang Tongsan, director of the Institute of Quantitative and Technical Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, drew an overall picture of his country’s economy from Deng Xiaoping’s early reforms up to now.

Tracing China’s giant economic leap forward, Prof Wang noted that in the last few years, this development has led to an “overheated” economy due to excess domestic and foreign investment and excess production. For this reason, the Chinese government for at least the past two years has tried to keep investments and bank loans in check.

Beijing has also tried to redirect new investments in less developed regions. Hitherto more than 50 per cent of all investments poured into the already developed and efficient coastal regions, but the authorities have been trying for some time to get domestic and foreign investors to go out west and put their money in central regions of the country and the Xinjiang.

Wang also stressed that in 2006-2007 China’s policy paid greater attention to the problems faced by the country’s agricultural sector and the environment, both in crisis. At the same time, because of growing social tensions, the government has tried to improve workers’ salaries.

At the end of his presentation, Wang said that despite all these factors China remains a good place for foreigners to invest, still competitive compared to places like Vietnam and Cambodia,.

Prof Luo Hongbo, director of the Italian Studies Centre and a Europe expert, said that because Italy is known for its expertise in the food, agriculture and environmental fields, these areas are of particular interest to the Chinese government.

Ms Luo also pointed out that China is increasingly interested in investing abroad, but so far only 6.3 per cent of its foreign investment has gone to Europe, mostly in the United Kingdom.

In her opinion Italy is well placed to attract Chinese capital in the garment industry and design as well as transportation and services. Italy has a central location in Europe and might be a good platform for shipping goods across continental Europe.

“Trieste’s harbour would be good to ship goods from Shanghai to Munich in Bavaria. It is more efficient and fast than Hamburg’s,” she said.

Yesterday’s conference was the first of a series planned for 2007 in both Italy and China. The series is part of a joint effort between Capitalia and the Institute for European Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Papers from the meeting will be published by the Review of economic conditions in Italy, of which Prof Paolo Savona is the editor, in a trilingual collection (Italian, English, and Chinese).

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