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China and Italy sign trade agreements and memorandum of understanding on technology, energy, and tourism

After meeting the Italian president Sergio Mattarella yesterday, Xi Jinping will sign today with the president of the council Giuseppe Conte 29 agreements for a value between 5 and 7 billion.

Then, Xi Jinping will travel to Sicily for the final part of his visit to Italy.

The Memorandum of Understanding that will be signed this morning will sanction the adhesion of Italy, first among the G7 countries, to the “Belt and Road Initiative” or the “New Silk Road”, the new Chinese global infrastructure project.

Last night Mattarella received with all the honors the Chinese president accompanied by 150 officials, businessmen, and journalists.

Mattarella remarked how the Italian-Chinese agreement will take place “in the context of the strategy outlined by the European Union” and underlined the problem of respect for human rights.

Sergio Mattarella thus had to ease the tensions of recent weeks triggered by Xi’s visit to Italy, on the American side a and European.

Matteo Salvini, the Italian Deputy Prime Minister, said that “China is not a free market”, but added that he is still happy with the Chinese visit, and with the signed economic agreements.

The list of agreements originally signed it had to cover 50 points, but the controversies of the last few days have reduced the number to 29.

In particular, there has been a slowdown as regards the telecommunications sector, after the Huawei scandal.

Among the agreements provided, there is also the possibility of playing a Serie A soccer match in China.

Conte said that Italy signed the agreements for purely commercial reasons, trying to recalibrate the trade balance with China which sees an Italian deficit close to 18 billion.

France and Germany, despite weaving even more important trade relations with China, have not signed the agreement.

The agreements are still subject to maximum confidentiality.

Some still seem rather generic, while others are more detailed.

We only know that they concern some strategic sectors for Italy, such as transport, energy, steel plants, shipyards, and credit.

According to the Italian business newspaper Il Sole 24ore, the picture is broad: it goes from understandings with Unicredit, Intesa Sanpaolo, and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, to the naval sector with Fincantieri, up to the energy sector that will involve Ansaldo, Snam, Italgas, Terna, Enel, and Eni.

According to the local press, the Danieli of Buttro (Udine ) will enter into a Chinese partnership for the construction of a steel plant in Azerbaijan.

Eni will sign an agreement with Bank of China to “strengthen collaboration on various financial instruments”.

The 5g is not part of the agreement.

As regards the agreement with Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, it provides for the preparation of the Panda Bonds, bonds that aim to collect capital from Chinese institutional investors to finance Italian companies operating in China.

Ansaldo Energia, one of the world’s largest producers of power plants, will receive a contract from Shanghai Electric, already a 40% shareholder of Ansaldo.

Three agreements concern Chinese tourism in Italy, signed with Aeroporti di Roma, Trenitalia and Musei Ferrari.

Chinese tourists in Italy reached two million in 2018.

According to Sun Jie, Ctrip’s CEO, a simplification of visa procedures, more flights, and increased tourist safety would help the sector grow.

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