Italian Premier Romano Prodi unveiled in Rome on Thursday plans
to boost Italian economic and trade ties with China, saying that he
wanted Italy to become "the door to the East."
Prodi, who is traveling to China next week at the head of a
major delegation of Italian political and business officials, said
that "China is already a friend of ours but we want it to become
even more so."
Speaking at a press conference in which he gave details of the
September 13 to Sept. 18 trip, the leader said that "this visit is
"Italy is going to China with new economic, political and
cultural strategies. This is the biggest institutional and business
mission ever organized (by Italy) to China. It represents an
opportunity for Italy and Europe."
Prodi will be accompanied by four ministers, one junior minister
and three undersecretaries plus representatives of 12 of Italy's 20
regions and top members of the powerful industrial employers'
federation Confindustria, the Italian Foreign Trade Institute and
the Italian Banking Association.
Prodi will hold talks with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen
Jiabao in Beijing.
After that, he will visit four cities that are key to China's
economic engine: Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Tianjin.
One of Prodi's most important stops will be in Guangzhou, where
he and Foreign Trade Minister Emma Bonino will open the city's
international fair of small to medium-sized firms.
More than 700 Italian firms will be attending the fair.
Meanwhile, Italian auto giant Fiat will cement a deal with
China's Saic Motor Corporation in Shanghai.
Minister Bonino underscored on Thursday that Italian exports to
China had jumped 18.6 percent over the past year with textiles and
machinery leading the upwards trend.
She noted that a total of 1,428 Italian firms were currently
present in China, more than 80 percent of which were large-sized
(Xinhua News Agency September 8, 2006)