While the Chinese and Italian economies currently differ greatly, they both have features that can benefit both countries. Despite the economic crisis, relations between the two countries are positive and giving way to new prospects for cooperation in the energy industry.
Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, highlight the potential of relations between Italy and China during his recent visit to Italy in October, in which he took part in the Italy-China Business Council in Rome and the Asia-Europe Meeting in Milan, which followed the first meeting of the new Italy-China Joint Committee on industrial cooperation in Venice. Some of the issues discussed in Venice included the protection of intellectual property, copyright, innovation, energy efficiency targets, manufacturing that encourages top Chinese companies to invest in Italy, while encouraging Italian companies to seize business opportunities in China.
There were also a number of academic meetings, including a seminar at the Polytechnic of Milan, during which the Chinese Premier highlighted the power of Italian creativity, saying that it 'comes from history and is the basis of the industrial revolution.' He went on to explain how the long history of cooperation between Italy and China can be the foundation for creativity and innovation. This collaboration is the result of almost 45 years of diplomatic relations and a decade of strategic global partnership. This partnership has seen the Enel Groupas one of its leading players through projects that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — an issue that China is becoming increasingly sensitive to, as the recent agreement signed by Li Keqiang and United States President Barack Obama shows.
Over the course of the last 10 years, Enel has become an important partner with China and has obtained recognition for both its expertise in the energy sector and its innovative technology. It recently signed an agreement with China's largest power producer, the Huaneng Group, for the joint development of technology, conventional and renewable energy projects, carbon strategy and cooperation between the research departments of both companies. Enel has also come to an agreement with the State Grid Corporation of China, the world's largest distribution and transmission utility, to cooperate in the smart grid and renewable energy sectors.
During the Business Council in Rome, relations between China and Enel also extended to the financial sector, with a Memorandum of Understanding between the Group and the Bank of China to open a credit line of up to €1 billion. Enel CEO Francesco Staraceexplained that the agreement is 'pure finance' and has no commercial constraints tied to Chinese products. The Bank of China, the CEO stated, will allow Enel to obtain medium and long-term loans at very competitive rates. These resources can be used to launch new projects, manage debt and expand to new markets.