BEIJING — Vice President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visits to Italy, Cuba, Uruguay and Chile will enhance bilateral ties and bolster trade and economic cooperation, a senior official said. Xi’s official visits to the four nations are scheduled from June 1 to 13, during which he will also attend the ceremony marking the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification.
“Despite the impact of the global financial crisis and the unbalanced recovery of the world economy, Chinese-Italian trade has kept growing,” said Zhong Shan, vice minister of commerce on Wednesday.
In 2010, Chinese-Italian trade surged by 44.5 percent year-on-year to 45.15 billion U.S. dollars, exceeding the goal set by the two prime ministers of 40 billion U.S. dollars, official figures show.
China has climbed from 14th to 10th on Italy’s trading partners’ list, said Zhong, who is also China’s deputy International Trade Representative.
Two-way investment is also booming, Zhong said, adding that Italy’s investment in China has shifted from manufacturing to the energy-saving and environmental-protection sectors, while Chinese investors are seeking business opportunities in crisis-hit Italy.
“China and Italy share reciprocal economic advantages thanks to their different development stages,” Zhong said.
China’s demand matches Italy’s luxury industry, competitive technology, machinery, design, and advanced administration services industry, he said.
China and Cuba will start negotiations to institute a five-year plan for bilateral economic cooperation, Zhong said.
“So China and Cuba can share each other’s experience of economic development, benefit the two peoples and spark new opportunities for bilateral trade and economic cooperation,” he said.
Since the two states established diplomatic ties in 1950, economic and trade ties have played an important role in bilateral relations.
Cuba has become China’s largest trade partner in the Caribbean region, and China is Cuba’s second largest trade partner worldwide, Zhong said.
From 2001 to 2010, Chinese-Cuban trade grew from 440 million to 1.83 billion U.S. dollars, and Cuba’s exports to China surged from 110 million to 770 million U.S. dollars, statistics show.
China has also provided aid to Cuba within its capability, such as factories of fans and bicycles, telecommunication networks, hydro-power stations, paddy farms, medical and meteorology equipment and training programs, Zhong said.
“The Chinese government encourages enterprises in the two countries to expand cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefits,” Zhong said, adding China will continuously offer assistance to Cuba.
With half of its wool exported to China, Uruguay is diversifying its export commodities for the Chinese market, its second largest after Brazil. “China, the top buyer of Uruguayan wools, is importing other goods from Uruguay, such as marine products, timber, pulp, beef and bone powder,” Zhong said.
In 2010, Chinese-Uruguayan trade volume increased by 69.3 percent year- on-year to 2.63 billion U.S. dollars, including 1.15 billion U.S. dollars of Chinese imports, according to figures. Zhong hailed economic projects between the two nations, such as a factory of China’s home-grown Chery Auto in Uruguay, saying the software industry could become another field for cooperation.
“There could be more and more Chinese companies going to Uruguay, which is a member of the South American Common Market and has inked free or favorable trade deals with Latin American countries and other nations,” Zhong said.
China, Chile Bolster Economic Ties
On the economic and trade ties with Chile, Zhong said China has become the South American state’s largest trade partner and top market of exports while two-way investment is also booming.
“Both economies are growing quickly, which will provide vigor for expanding cooperation,” Zhong said. He also underlined other favorable circumstances for bolstering economic and trade ties, such as stable bilateral ties and reciprocal advantages for resources, investment, and technology.
Thanks to a free-trade agreement inked by the two states in 2005, Chinese-Chilean trade has soared in recent years, as bilateral trade volume grew by 44.8 percent to 25.83 billion U.S. dollars last year, according to data.