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Italian firms seek new opportunities at CIIE Release date: 2019-11-07    Source:Xinhua

Italian businesses are seeking new opportunities at the second China International Import Expo (CIIE), where Italy is one of the 15 guest-of-honor countries.

Italian firms are showcasing their wares at a 2,000 square-meter floor space booked by the Italy-China Foundation, the China-Italy Chamber of Commerce (CICC) and the Italian Foreign Trade Association (AICE) within the 360,000 square-meter exhibition area.

Italian firms are in five different pavilions, Marco Bettin, chief operating officer at the Italy-China Foundation and secretary-general of the CICC, told Xinhua.

The fact that Italy is a guest of honor "is an absolute confirmation of the very good relations between Italy and China at the economic and political levels, especially after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)" in March this year, Bettin told Xinhua.

"I think it can be seen as recognition of the role Italy plays on the global market in terms of top-quality manufacturing in several sectors, from fashion to technological products to agro-food," Bettin added.

Of these firms, 90 are led by the Italy-China Foundation, up from about 30 companies in last year's delegation.

This increase "is a relevant sign of maturity on the part of our companies, including the small and medium ones, which are proving increasingly able to project themselves on international markets," Professor Matteo Caroli, who teaches economics and international business at the LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome, told Xinhua.

"The strong presence of Italy at the CIIE might reflect another sign of improvement from our companies: namely, a better understanding of how aggregation is relevant and key to being strong and valuable on global markets," said Caroli, who also serves as associate dean of the LUISS Business School.

In other words, Caroli explained, Italian companies are learning to move together and not alone as single brands, a weakness not shared by European competitors such as French firms, which are more adept at moving as a "system".

"Difficulties still exist in this perspective, but today more Italian companies are taking the promotional opportunities offered by public institutions or business associations," Caroli continued.

"From this point of view, an event such as the CIIE is positive, because it provides an opportunity for those who are able to grasp it, and a possible boost to growth," the LUISS professor added.

A total of 155 countries and regions as well as 26 international organizations are attending the second CIIE, which is held on Nov. 5-10. And 64 countries will host country exhibitions, while 3,893 companies are attending business exhibitions.

Bettin sees a stronger focus on the luxury sector as a trend at this year's CIIE.

"This confirms that consumption on the Chinese market keeps moving towards the top-quality level, and it is a good trend for Italy's core manufacturing and for our participating companies," Bettin told Xinhua.

He added that Italian firms are seeking a variety of opportunities at the CIIE.

"Many of our participating firms already have experience on the Chinese market, while others are at the beginning. In both cases, China is not yet their reference market at a global level and they want to move in that direction -- they want to boost their contacts and their presence," said Bettin, who has 20 years of experience in dealing and working with China.

"The CIIE is really the event drawing attention and participation from the whole of China. In this perspective, Italian companies also look at the CIIE as an opportunity to do a kind of market research," he continued.

"This is because China has become a complex and sophisticated market with new areas to explore, and companies need specialized operators to move there," Bettin explained.

He said, compared to last year, "it is no longer a hope but a certainty that the CIIE has become a reference point for our small and medium businesses."

During the six-day expo, Italian SMEs have the opportunity to meet with operators from across China, as well as to attend workshops and B2B opportunities on the sidelines, said Bettin.

For Caroli, the CIIE presents opportunities for "our typical Made in Italy products, namely the agro-food industry, furniture, design, mechanics, and lately also some sectors of our green production chains that are being met with favor at the international level."

One of these companies is Pharsmart, which develops and produces cosmetics, food supplements, and medical devices.

"The Chinese market represents a huge possibility for Italian industry, especially in those sectors where Italy has competitive advantages and know-how, such as beauty and health," Pharsmart CEO Giovanni Cotticelli told Xinhua.

"In order to grasp this advantage and to fulfill our aspirations, Pharsmart is engaged in a deep collaboration with Chinese distributors, which are helping us introduce our products into the Asian market."

The Italian CEO also sees the implementation of the MoU between Italy and China on the BRI as "a chance to deepen economic, commercial but also cultural bonds" between the two countries.

"Pharsmart is ready to take a leading part in this new and challenging project," Cotticelli concluded.