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IV ICCF Survey | Italy-China, the state of trade between the two countries as seen through the eyes of businesses

Italy China Council Foundation (ICCF) has released its fourth annual survey on Italian and Chinese business, contained in the report "ICCF's 4th Annual Italian and Chinese Business Survey: featuring the study A Decade of the Belt and Road Initiative," produced by the ICCF Study Center with the support of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Italy and other key institutions. The volume was presented today during an event organized in collaboration with ITA Agenzia ICE at Palazzo Stelline, Milan, in the presence of entrepreneurs and professionals. Among the speakers, in addition to Mario Boselli, President of ICCF, were Li Bin, Minister Counselor for Economy and Trade of the Chinese Embassy in Italy, and Yan Xiaoming, President of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Italy.

Our Members will receive the full version of the report in digital format via email these days.

SURVEY RESULTS 2023_ ICCF's fourth annual survey offers an analysis of the current outlook as seen through the eyes of the Italian and Chinese business communities. The survey, conducted among about 200 selected companies (70 percent Italian and 30 percent Chinese), shows that 61 percent of Italian companies and 65 percent of Chinese companies consider their respective markets as the main destinations for their products. In addition, Chinese companies see Italy as an important research and development center as well as a relevant regional hub.

Italian companies in China pointed to increased competition from local Chinese firms, as well as rising labor costs and ambiguous regulations, for the second year in a row. Both sample groups face difficulties in finding skilled labor and attracting local talent. The decrease in the percentage of Italian companies citing the cost advantages of Chinese competitors signals that the local market, from raw material sourcing to production and labor costs, is becoming more structured and mature.
Overall, 58 percent of Italian companies and 69 percent of Chinese companies have invested or planned new investments in China and Italy, respectively. Among them, 90% of Italian companies and 73% of Chinese companies plan to expand further as early as 2024. In 2023, 50 percent of Italian companies consider China to be among the top three destinations for current and future investments, while Italy is in the top three for only 38 percent of Chinese respondents. 

TEN YEARS OF BELT AND ROAD_ The introductory part of the report is devoted to analyzing the evolution of the scope, geographic spread of investments, and sectoral focus of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) from 2013 to 2023. This initiative emerges against the backdrop of a major global challenge: the world's substantial infrastructure gap, which currently hinders trade, openness and future prosperity. The BRI stands out as one of China's major foreign policy efforts, strategically focusing on four pivotal areas: policy consultation, infrastructure connectivity, currency circulation, and trade facilitation. This ambitious initiative has mobilized nearly $1 trillion in investment, covering 151 countries and regions and involving 32 international organizations. Currently, the BRI is undergoing a strategic redefinition, with the goal of defining its trajectory for the next decade, thereby emphasizing its critical role in global infrastructure development and economic integration.

"In a journey that echoes the adventures of Marco Polo, today we travel a new Silk Road, not made of traditional caravans and goods, but of digital exchanges, economic relations and cultural connections. This ancient route, renewed and vital, continues to unite East and West, bearing witness to an enduring legacy," reads the preface signed by Mario Boselli, ICCF President. "In recent years, the Belt and Road Initiative has revitalized this historic route, transforming it into a corridor of opportunities and challenges. The global pandemic and economic turmoil have necessitated a strategic adjustment, not only to maintain competitiveness, but also to strengthen bilateral relations in a complex global context."


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