Italian businessman eyes opportunities in growing Chinese market

Updated: November 13, 2020 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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Dressed in protective clothing from head to toe, as usual, Mirko Turrina washed his hands carefully before entering the workshop to check the production lines.

The 44-year-old Italian is the general manager of Goglio (Tianjin) Packaging Co., Ltd., a foreign-invested company producing aseptic packaging for tomato paste, juice and coffee, among other products, as well as filling equipment and services.

"This place was totally empty when we came here," said Turrina, recalling the early days when the company was first set up in the Tianjin Port Free Trade Zone in 2004.

Over the past decade, a lot of work has been done by the local government to develop this area, as can be seen from the infrastructure and services, he said.

The company chose to base itself in Tianjin mainly because of the geographic advantage of the Tianjin Port as a major transportation hub in north China, as well as the opening up policies rolled out by the government.

The authorities of the free trade zone have been very active in drawing foreign investments and have offered attractive policy packages and supporting facilities, Turrina said.

Amid the COVID-19 epidemic earlier this year, the company quickly resumed operation at the end of February under the assistance of the management committee of the free trade zone.

Turrina described the relationship between the company and the local government as a "very open, straightforward" one.

"When we have some needs, we can consult with them. They provide us with suggestions and explain the policies. It is very positive for us," said Turrina. "We feel we are not alone."

China's central authorities have called for efforts to foster a robust domestic market.

A new development pattern should be established where domestic and foreign markets can boost each other with the domestic market as the mainstay, according to a communique released after the fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in late October.

Turrina said the company has benefited from the vast Chinese market despite export losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Actually we are quite satisfied, mainly because the Chinese domestic market has increased consumption. This will offset our reduction in export volume," he said, expressing confidence in an ever-growing Chinese market.

Since its inception in Tianjin, the company has produced over 120 million soft packaging goods in total, with the current annual output topping 10 million.

An expansion project with a total investment of 120 million yuan (about 18.12 million U.S. dollars) is now on the company's agenda.

"We have set an ambitious target to double our revenue in the next five years," Turrina said.

Since he came to China at the end of 2004, he had been living and working in the southern city of Guangzhou for a few years before he moved to Tianjin. He once had an opportunity to return to Italy but decided to stay, not just for himself, but for his son, said the businessman.

Now a student at an international school in Tianjin, the seven-year-old can speak Chinese fluently.

"China is changing, evolving and improving. It's indeed a place where everything is moving fast," said Turrina who wants his son to grow and get in touch with the diverse culture in the city.

The Haihe River and European-style architecture in Tianjin are reminiscent of his hometown where there is also a nice river, Turrina said.

"It is a quiet city that is also nice for living with my family. I feel happy living here," he said.

Editor: Liu Ting