China and Italy have great potential to increase bilateral trade and investment in the food and agricultural sectors, Vice-Premier Wang Yang said at the Italy-China Agriculture and Food Cooperation Forum on June 9.
Wang said the economies of China and Italy are becoming more interdependent, the businesses of both countries are increasingly willing to cooperate with each other, and great opportunities exist, particularly in the food sector.
The forum, held a day after China Pavilion Day at the Milan Expo, aimed to help Chinese and Italian food industry businesses to increase their cooperation. It was attended by about 300 business representatives.
Wang gave four suggestions for taking bilateral food sector cooperation forward.
First, the governments should use existing systems to facilitate good communication between companies in both countries, so business can be conducted in a smooth manner.
Second, there should be good alignment of the interests of both countries on issues like food security, combating climate change and developing renewable energy sources, so that the countries can work together more efficiently to achieve their common goals.
Third, there should be more support to increase the scale of trade by ensuring smooth customs checks, logistics and flow of people. Wang said China’s goal in bilateral trade is not to achieve a trade surplus, but instead it hopes to encourage businesses from both countries to trade more with each other so consumers can enjoy the best food and more choice.
Finally, he said, there should be more growth of bilateral investment in the food sector to encourage the cooperation of small and medium-sized businesses. The two governments should eliminate trade barriers, and the trade promotion agencies of both countries should do more to encourage trade and investment.
Wang said that Italian food is becoming increasingly popular in China, and that Italian products such as pasta and olive oil are familiar to many Chinese consumers, suggesting great potential for bilateral trade and investment growth in the food sector.
Riccardo Monti, president of the Italian Trade Commission, said he hopes many more Italian companies will expand their businesses in China to take advantage of the increase in consumption resulting from the country’s urbanization.
Monti said Italy has abundant, world-leading farming processes and technology that can also be used in China to help it become more efficient in agricultural production.
Many Chinese companies already have partnerships with Italian companies. China’s Bright Food bought a majority stake in Italian olive oil maker Salov last year. Dairy firm Yili has developed its Perfectlands milk brand in partnership with Italian company Sterilgarda.