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Italy says it wants Chinese carmakers but only under conditions

Chinese giant BYD Monday said it had been approached by the Italian government about investing in the country.

BYD's success has been helped by government subsidies, with Beijing pumping huge amounts of cash into domestic firms as well as research and development - © AFP Kazuhiro NOGI
BYD's success has been helped by government subsidies, with Beijing pumping huge amounts of cash into domestic firms as well as research and development - © AFP Kazuhiro NOGI

Italy will closely study any investments by Chinese carmakers, a minister said Thursday, after another minister said Wednesday the country was in talks with three Chinese manufacturers.

“These collaborations must be attentively evaluated and we must pay attention to unfair competition,” Vice-Premier Antonio Tajani said on the margins of a conference in Rome.

“We must pay attention that there is always reciprocity in these relations,” he said, adding that Italy’s cabinet would have to sign off on any eventual arrival of a Chinese group. 

Minister of Economic Development Adolfo Urso said Wednesday he was in talks with three Chinese automobile groups, without naming them. 

Chinese giant BYD Monday said it had been approached by the Italian government about investing in the country. The need for another European factory in addition to its existing one in Hungary “depends on our sales, and for the moment they are progressing well,” said Michael Shu, head of BYD’s European operations.

“It’s only with the arrival of another car constructor that we can reach our target of a million cars produced a year,” Urso said. 

Stellantis, which owns Fiat, is the only mass market car producer in Italy though there are also speciality sports carmakers.

Urso said Italy has also been in contact with Western groups such as Tesla, whose plan to expand its factory near Berlin has run into opposition from local residents.

The talks with Chinese groups come after Italy last December withdrew from China’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative, a massive project of linked maritime and land transport infrastructure projects. 

Stellantis, which last year raised its production in Italy by 9.6 percent to 752,000 cars, has warned against allowing in Chinese companies.  

“If we invited more Chinese constructors to produce in Europe, do you think this will help us,” Chief Executive Carlos Tavares said in mid-February. 

The European Union is concerned about unfair competition from Chinese carmakers and last October launched an investigation into alleged subsidies they receive from the Chinese government. 

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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