A group photo of the staff of the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) at the 5th China International Import Expo (CIIE). ITA’s Trade Commissioner in Shanghai Augusto Di Giacinto is the third from the left.
While all roads led to Rome in the past, today, Rome is beating a path to China, especially this time of year, when the ongoing China International Import Expo (CIIE) offers companies access to the vast China market and beyond. This year is also the China-Italy Year of Culture and Tourism, adding to the interest.
The Italian Trade Agency (ITA), the state organization promoting foreign trade, Italian exports and investment in Italy, has been attending the CIIE since its debut in 2018, and the fifth one is no exception. “The CIIE is an annual date,” Augusto Di Giacinto, the ITA’s Trade Commissioner in Shanghai, said. “Italian companies want to show their latest products and the latest thing they are doing to Chinese customers and clients.”
The CIIE, which opened in Shanghai on November 5 and will close on November 10, is the first international fair in China since the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, a critical five-yearly conference that decided the direction of the country’s development for the next five years and beyond. Therefore the fifth CIIE, besides being an important platform to promote global trade, is also an opportunity to learn about new policies.
President Xi Jinping, who addressed the CIIE opening ceremony via video, underscored the direction of China’s opening-up and mentioned moves that it will take. It will work with all countries and parties to share the opportunities in its vast market and the opportunities from its institutional opening-up. It remains committed to economic globalization, participating in the reform of the World Trade Organization, and joining international trade pacts to expand high-standard free trade areas.
The Italian Pavilion at the 5th CIIE is located at the heart of the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai).
This year, in collaboration with design firm Vudafieri Saverino Partners, the ITA has built an elaborate Italian National Pavilion at the CIIE. “We want to show Italy in 360 degrees, not only the economic or commerce sector,” Di Giacinto said. “And this year marks the China-Italy Year of Culture and Tourism, so we want to show what Italy is doing in the cultural and tourism fields.” While Italy is well-known for its design, fashion and food, it is also very good in other sectors like machinery, automation, the auto industry and environmental technology, he added.
Italy and China have a long tradition of cooperation. So the more open the market, the more people are interested in exchange and investment. There are also new potential markets to tap. “There is a lot of attention to the environment in China now,” Di Giacinto said. “People want to live a green life. So it is a good opportunity for advanced companies to promote these technologies.”
He lauded the improvements in China’s policies, saying they were especially helpful for small and medium Italian companies, which need greater support when they enter a new market. “It is also our duty, we are here to support Italian companies in terms of promotion, participation and information, and other ways.”
Last year, the Italy-China Foundation surveyed 180 Italian companies on the China market and 84 percent said doing business in China was a "positive experience." Over 29 percent of the companies surveyed were large enterprises, and the rest small and medium-sized enterprises crucial to Italy's entrepreneurial force.