Italy, China sign 8 billion euros in deals

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

MILAN (AP) — Italian and Chinese companies signed deals worth 8 billion euros ($10 billion) Tuesday, including an order for 50 helicopters from Italian defense giant Finmeccanica and a Chinese line of credit to Italian energy company Enel.

The deals were the "'concrete results" of intensifying economic and cultural ties between the two countries, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told a news conference on his first day of a visit to Italy. He added that China does not want to run a trade surplus with Italy and would like to import more Italian products, citing Italian craftsmanship and technology.

"Since Italy and China are both kingdoms of excellent food, we can strengthen exchanges: Chinese dumplings and noodles for Italian spaghetti and pizza," he quipped.

At the signing ceremony, Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland signed a 400 million euro deal to provide helicopters to the Chinese industrial group BAIC, while the Italian investment fund FSI and the China Investment Corporation signed an agreement to co-invest up to 500 million euros each in companies promoting economic cooperation between the countries. Enel's line of credit from the Bank of China Ltd can be used for projects in and out of China.

China is Italy's second-largest trading partner outside of Europe, with 33 billion euros in trade during the first six months of the year.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi has been actively seeking Chinese investment in Italy to help relaunch the moribund economy. China's state bank holds stakes in Italian carmaker Fiat, now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Telecom Italia, and the energy company Eni, among others.

Li will attend a summit of Asian and European leaders in Milan later this week.