March 21, 2019 / 6:58 AM / a month ago

Italy aims to add 7 billion euros in exports to China: junior minister

ROME (Reuters) - Italy hopes to increase exports to China by 7 billion euros ($8 billion), junior Industry minister Michele Geraci said hours before Chinese President Xi Jinping was due to arrive in Rome at the start of a 3-day visit.

Xi is expected to sign a preliminary accord with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Saturday, hooking Italy up to his giant Belt and Road infrastructure project. More than 30 parallel deals are also in the pipeline.

“Italian exports to China amount to 13 billion euros while French exports total 20 billion euros. My first goal is to close this gap of 7 billion euros,” Geraci said in a interview published on his Facebook account.

One of the expected accords would enable Italy’s state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti to sell debt to investors in mainland China, two sources told Reuters.

Italy’s financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Thursday that the government wanted to generate 7 billion euros in new business through various deals set to be signed on Saturday.

Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni, editing by Valentina Za and Crispian Balmer

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