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China and Italy Discuss Belt and Road in Milan

Jan. 11, 2018 (EIRNS)—While the European Union's Mediterranean Seven leaders were arriving in Rome yesterday, a major conference on "Belt and Road: Building a Concrete Roadmap with Italy and China’s Joint Growth," was taking place in Milan, sponsored by the Italian Industry Ministry and the Chinese Trade Ministry and by the Lombardy Association of Industry (Assolombarda), and organized by the Italy-China Business Forum.

Reporting on the event, Formiche wrote that "The conference showed that already in 2014-2016, the [Belt and Road Initiative], which is to connect Europe and China, sharply reducing transport time for freight, has created 180,000 jobs in infrastructure."

"The New Silk Road plan will favor cooperation among more than 60 countries which, together, constitute 63% of the world population, 30% of GDP and 35% of international trade exchanges,"

said Carlo Bonomi, chairman of Assolombarda. Bonomi pointed to the fact that Lombardy alone has a volume of over €15billion trade with China, almost half of the entire Italy-China trade (€38 billion).

Zhou Xiaoyan, general director of the European division of the Chinese Ministry of Economic Development, remarked that the Italian and Chinese economies can be complementary. In fact, in the first ten months of 2017 trade has increased by 13.9%, while China’s imports from Italy have increased 22%. Chinese firms have invested over €11 billion in Italy over recent years.

Fabrizio Lucentini, a director of the Italian Ministry for Economic Development (industry), said that Italian firms should increase contacts with all countries which are part of the BRI. Pirelli co-chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera called for changing views on China, which is not a threat for the European economy. Bank of China chairman Chen Siqing stressed that in the next five years, 46% of global growth will come from regions involved in the BRI.

There were three panels: one on financing, with Italy’s Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, the Silk Road Fund, and Bank of China Holdings; and two on infrastructure.