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Industry experts eye growing Chinese investments in Italy

by Marzia De Giuli, Song Jian

MILAN, Italy,(Xinhua) — There is growing interest of Chinese investors for the Italian market, industry experts said.

“We have been supporting our clients for the last 30 years, by following them all along the path to reach the vast Asian market,” Zhu Zhenmin, CEO of Genertec Italia, told Xinhua in an interview on the sidelines of the China Awards, an annual ceremony held here in Milan earlier this week to praise the companies and personalities that have contributed to enhance Sino-Italian relations.

However, Zhu went on saying, Genertec Italia recently has been particularly focusing on the increasing number of Chinese investors in Italy.

Zhu noted the Milan-based company, which is part of the China General Technology (Group) Holding (Genertec) and boasts personnel from both countries, has experienced all phases of the bilateral commercial relations, and has observed a growing trend of alliances between Chinese and Italian companies also for their success in third countries.

Maylink is a Chinese group which operates globally in different industries, including public relations, event organization, travel services and e-commerce. The Chinese company was awarded at the China Awards for its role in facilitating many exchange activities during the Milan world exposition.

President of Maylink Li Yongping told Xinhua that the presence of Maylink in Europe and Italy will not stop with the end of the Expo in October this year, which was just a new start for more opportunities. In his view, localization, or the assimilation of local culture and habits, is a fundamental element for Chinese companies to achieve success abroad.

World Capital, a Milan-based company specialized in real estate consultancy and investment, also has deep relations with China. “Our business after four years in China is going well,” Marco Clerici, managing director at World Capital, told Xinhua. “Chinese investors are interested in the Italian market, where we both operate in the B2C and B2B market,” he added.

Following the economic crisis, there has been growing interest from abroad to invest in Italy in the real estate sector, he noted. “This means that for global analysts, prices have reached the lowest point and from now onwards they are expected to raise,” Clerici noted.

Clerici underlined that the Chinese investors have seized the opportunity. “They are especially investing in the hospitality sector, where they see great potential for development,” he told Xinhua, noting that China’s big groups have acquired various prestigious palaces in Italy. “The coming years will be important ones. Therefore we have a strong presence in China, with both Italian and local human resources, we are betting on China,” he said.

Paolo Panerai, chief editor and CEO of Italian media group Class Editori, whose daily business newspaper MF Milano Finanza organized the China Awards along with the Italy China Foundation, said the latest editions of the event — this year at its tenth edition — have seen a growing number of Chinese companies awarded for their successful trade and cultural relations with Italy.

“Talking about strategic funds or big companies, China is surely the country that has invested the most in Italy over the last two years,” Panerai said. “Italian companies years ago went to China to cut production costs, now quality has become fundamental,” he noted, also calling on Italy to support the internationalization of RMB.

“I think that apart from the traditional fields, the health and service sectors are particularly worth exploring regarding bilateral collaboration,” Italian Ambassador to China Ettore Francesco Sequi, who assumed office in late August, told Xinhua.

“We have an increasing awareness that we should promote not only the Made-in-Italy, but also the Do-it-with-Italy. This means that China and Italy can develop a number of collaborations, not only in the Chinese market but also for third countries’ markets. I have heard speaking about possible cooperation in Latin American or African countries, which I find very interesting and should be explored,” he said.

Sequi also cited China-proposed “Belt and Road” initiative as the framework of the Sino-Italian relations. He highlighted that Italy was among the first countries to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a China-proposed international development bank launched last year which targets investment in Asian infrastructures, such as transportation, energy and telecommunications.

“I have been in China just for a few weeks and I exactly found the country that I expected: an extremely vivid country, which will certainly become the first economy in the world within 30 years or less, with which it is fundamental to develop collaborations, because I believe that the future is there,” he said.

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