China confident in Italy’s economy

Chinese Prime minister Wen Jiabao, at a meeting in Beijing with the Italian equivalent Mario Monti has said that Italy could return to economic growth with the right reforms. “The Italian economy has solid foundations and potential. It can deal with the unfavourable international context and, thanks to the implementation of reforms, boost growth,” Wen said.

Monti has also revealed that he considers China a strategic partner to Italy. “We can find new forms of cooperation, not only in our bilateral relations but also in multilateral relations.” The esteemed technocrat replaced Silvio Berlusconi as head of Italy, back in November 2011, taking power over the third largest economy in the euro zone but also a country in need of €750 billion to finance its debts. 

With its economic difficulties, Italy needs the support of economically thriving countries such as China, so Monti’s trip, which has taken him to Japan and South Korea as well as to China, aims to get recession-struck Italy growing again after years of lagging behind its euro zone peers. 

However China also looks to benefit from supporting Italy, as Wen disclosed his hopes that “The Chinese government has encouraged its national businesses to increase their investments in Italy and it hopes that Italy will push the European Union to create a more open investment climate.” China has wanted to be recognised by the EU as a market economy, as this status would offer better guarantees of access to Chinese products on the European market and hopes that Italy will be able to help in its ambitions.

In Beijing, Monti said that he wanted to generate new enthusiasm for his country, presenting a “new” Italy, which is less bureaucratic and more open to foreign investment. “My expectation was, first of all, to explain and to present (the new Italy) and from the reactions that we got, I must say that it is going in a satisfactory manner,” said Monti. Italy “wants to become and is becoming more disciplined, more deeply market economy-oriented and more business-friendly and a country firmly rooted in the EU.”

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