ROME, April 2 (Xinhua) -- The various cooperation agreements signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Italy have laid an important foundation for Italian businesses to expand their presence in China, experts have told Xinhua.
During Xi's March visit, China and Italy signed a series of bilateral cooperation documents, including a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on boosting cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
"The agreements put in place opened an important door for Italy," Renzo Cavalieri, a professor of East Asian law at Ca'Foscari University in Venice, told Xinhua. "Next we have to figure out how to use it."
Matteo Bressan, an international relations expert with Lumsa University in Rome, said the set of agreements signed between Italy and China have established an important base for Italy to build on.
"Italy and China have traditionally had good relations and these agreements represent another step forward," Bressan said in an interview. "Italy has ground to make up: The country's presence in China is still relatively modest compared to some other countries'."
Bressan noted that in some economic sectors like fashion, design, luxury goods, pharmaceuticals and high-end food products, Italy has a good foothold in China, but in the wake of the recent deals, the country will have to do more.
"I would like to see Italy do more to promote and expand the 'Made in Italy' brand," Bressan said.
Both Cavalieri and Bressan said a challenge is posed by the fact that Italy's economy is dominated by small and medium-sized companies that usually lack the scale to succeed in an economy as large and faraway as China's.
"We have to learn how to work together more in order to be a credible force in a country like China," Cavalieri said.
In the opinion of Paola Paderni, a historian focusing on Chinese institutions at the University of Naples and president of the Italian Association for Chinese Studies, the deals may have given Italy an edge.
"Every country in the world is working to adjust its expectations in a world where China's influence is only growing," Paderni told Xinhua. "Maybe these deals will help give Italy a small advantage."