Chinese market important for Italian exports in 2021

Updated: January 2, 2022 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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Italian designer Laura Minmini visits the 130th session of the China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, Oct. 15, 2021. (Xinhua/Liu Dawei)

Chinese customs data also reflect such a trend, showing Italian exports to China kept growing in the first 11 months of 2021, reaching 27.65 billion U.S. dollars, a stunning 40 percent increase year-on-year.

ROME, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- "Our company's exhibition area at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) saw an expansion in 2021, as sales volume increased over 20 percent despite the pandemic," said Han Zhangwen, a Chinese businessman who deals in Italian wine, while attending the fourth edition of the CIIE held in November in Shanghai.

Candido Mormile, an Italian wine businessman, confirmed the trend that Italian wine exports to China displayed a very strong performance in the last few years. Business is still growing and becoming better every year, he said during the 105th China Food & Drinks Fair.

Aside from the wine sector, the Chinese market has become important for a growing number of Italian industries in recent years, despite the global economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Italian media, China has become the largest foreign importer of Italian marble, concentrating almost half of international sales, as well as the world's fastest-growing market for Italian cheese.

Italian furniture and agri-food exports to China increased 53 percent and 57.7 percent respectively in the first half of 2021, while industrial machinery still had the lion's share of Italian exports to the Asian country, posting a 43.9-percent annual growth in the same period, according to a report published by the Italy-China Foundation in November.

People visit the Italian wine exhibition area during the 105th China Food & Drinks Fair in the national convention and exhibition center in Tianjin, north China, Oct. 20, 2021. (Xinhua/Sun Fanyue)

Chinese customs data also reflect such a trend, showing Italian exports to China kept growing in the first 11 months of 2021, reaching 27.65 billion U.S. dollars, a stunning 40 percent increase year-on-year.

According to Massimiliano Tremiterra, head of Italian Trade Agency (ITA) office in southern China's Guangzhou, the Chinese economy is "one of the great world economies that has kept growing in the last years despite the pandemic outbreak. Therefore, the Chinese market is considered a market of primary importance for a country like Italy with a strong export orientation."

Data from the Italian National Institute of Statistics showed that Italy's gross domestic product shrank by 8.9 percent in 2020. In the meantime, many Italian companies operating in China continued to grow, noticed Tremiterra, who helped maintain the financial balance of their headquarters in Italy.

According to a survey carried out in 2021 by the Italy-China Foundation on a sample of 180 Italian companies, almost 80 percent of Italian companies see China as a potential end market for their products as well as an "opportunity not to be missed."

The Chinese market has been increasingly opening up to global companies, including a strong Italian presence at the fourth CIIE, with dedicated pavilions for over 100 companies and a deal between the Chinese supermarket BHG Market Place and the ITA to promote Italian agri-food products.

The two parties worked together to launch an Italian food and wine festival in BHG Market Place shops in the Chinese cities of Beijing and Xi'an.

Moreover, the China-European Union (EU) agreement on geographical indications, officially into effect since March 1, 2021, is providing China and the EU with new opportunities to enhance the trade of agri-food products, including Italian ones.

Bottles of wine from Italy are exhibited at the Food and Agricultural Products exhibition area during the third China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 7, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhao Dingzhe)

Looking into the future, Italy-China Foundation President Mario Boselli wrote in a report that domestic consumption, along with innovation and increasing digitalization, are going to be the main drivers of China's economic growth in the next years, and that Italian companies will have to make adjustments in order to stay competitive.

In Tremiterra's eyes, digital economic growth is an irreversible trend, as shown by the development of the e-commerce sector.

"With the implementation of the cross-border e-commerce platform, Italian products significantly increased their presence on the main Chinese e-commerce platforms such as Tmall and JD. Especially in the cosmetics and fashion sectors, some Italian brands achieved high levels of online sales," said Tremiterra.

Editor: Tian Shenyoujia