Xi's visits to boost economic ties with Italy, Cuba, Uruguay, Chile

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Vice President Xi Jinping's upcoming visits to Italy, Cuba, Uruguay and Chile will enhance bilateral ties and bolster trade and economic cooperation, a senior official said.

Xi's official visits to the four nations are scheduled from June 1 to 13, during which he will also attend the ceremony marking the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification.

China-Italy trade surges amid crisis

"Despite the impact of the global financial crisis and the unbalanced recovery of the world economy, Chinese-Italian trade has kept growing," said Zhong Shan, vice minister of commerce on Wednesday.

In 2010, Chinese-Italian trade surged by 44.5 percent year-on-year to 45.15 billion U.S. dollars, exceeding the goal set by the two prime ministers of 40 billion U.S. dollars, official figures show.

China has climbed from 14th to 10th on Italy's trading partners' list, said Zhong, who is also China's deputy International Trade Representative.

Two-way investment is also booming, Zhong said, adding that Italy's investment in China has shifted from manufacturing to the energy-saving and environmental-protection sectors, while Chinese investors are seeking business opportunities in crisis-hit Italy.

"China and Italy share reciprocal economic advantages thanks to their different development stages," Zhong said.

China's demand matches Italy's luxury industry, competitive technology, machinery, design, and advanced administration services industry, he said.

China, Cuba to layout 5-year plan for economic cooperation

China and Cuba will start negotiations to institute a five-year plan for bilateral economic cooperation, Zhong said.

"So China and Cuba can share each other's experience of economic development, benefit the two peoples and spark new opportunities for bilateral trade and economic cooperation," he said.

Since the two states established diplomatic ties in 1950, economic and trade ties have played an important role in bilateral relations.

Cuba has become China's largest trade partner in the Caribbean region, and China is Cuba's second largest trade partner worldwide, Zhong said.

From 2001 to 2010, Chinese-Cuban trade grew from 440 million to 1.83 billion U.S. dollars, and Cuba's exports to China surged from 110 million to 770 million U.S. dollars, statistics show.

China has also provided aid to Cuba within its capability, such as factories of fans and bicycles, telecommunication networks, hydro-power stations, paddy farms, medical and meteorology equipment and training programs, Zhong said.

"The Chinese government encourages enterprises in the two countries to expand cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefits," Zhong said, adding China will continuously offer assistance to Cuba.

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