Exports from Italy to China have decreased from the equivalent of 19 million in 1971 to about €13 billion in 2019 and China accounts for the ninth destination market for Italian Export.

The 50th Anniversary of the Diplomatic Relations between Italy & China is a basis for reflection on the trade relations between the two Countries. The establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Italy and China and the fact that the People’s Republic of China joined the WTO have been the two milestones of this path.

The role played by ICE, with the opening of its office in Beijing in 1966, has been fundamental; scholars of those years have also underlined it has fostered the dialogue between the two countries, leading to the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1970.

Today, the interchange between the two countries is equal to €44.6 billion, compared to a total interchange of €4,000 billion in China.

Exports from Italy to China have decreased from the equivalent of 19 million in 1971 to about €13 billion in 2019 and China accounts for the ninth destination market for Italian export.

Chinese consumers love Italian beauty and the well-made, as symbols of a lifestyle they long for. The confirmation has come on the occasion of each of the 250 initiatives that ICE carried out in China last year, hoping that deep direct actions can be soon undertaken, by combining physical and digital. Companies can rely on four ICE offices in China.

As they already know, the basic services of ICE foreign offices are now free for all companies employing up to 100 people. We are also committed to innovate intervention models towards the digital sector: in China, Made in Italy e-commerce showcases are active. They have been created by ICE together with Alibaba, WeChat, JD, namely the three platforms with over 85% of flows, towards a billion of online consumers every day.

From China, we have launched the first promotion initiatives with the large distribution in an offline-to-online modality. Companies can seize many opportunities, if we consider that the Italian export market share on Chinese global import is slightly above 1%, compared to an Italian products’ participation to global trade, accounting for 2.9%.

The pandemic emergency makes even more important the commitment in this direction. Especially today, when China is the first country with an economic and social activity that has fully recovered. ISTAT data of September show a trend growth of extra-EU Italian export by 3%, with the contribution of the increase by 33% toward China.

There are the conditions for a new expansionary cycle in commercial relations between the two countries both at a bilateral and domestic level, thanks to the Export Agreement commissioned by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in order to coordinate and strengthen the joint action supporting internationalisation: in its fulfilment, ICE has started 14 new initiatives in support of companies.

There are also new challenges, firstly the New Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (RCEP) trade agreement, which launches a new Asia-Centric multilateralism.

In this difficult scenario, we look at the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries as a starting point for an acceleration in the Italy-China trade relation in the context of the Belt & Road during the RCEP era, to which also the EU should answer.