ROME, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Innovation must be seen as a crucial pillar of future Sino-European economic cooperation, top Chinese entrepreneurs and Italian senior officials highlighted during a meeting here on Saturday.
"Building a healthy Sino-European Economic Future" was the theme of the roundtable hosted at Rome city hall, which had former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, former Finnish Prime Minister Esko Aho, and Rome mayor Ignazio Marino among major guests.
The delegation of the Chinese Entrepreneur Club (CEC) included most influential entrepreneurs from various key economic sectors such as investments, software, health care, agriculture, real estate, and entertainment.
"This is a precious opportunity for us to exchange information with local officials, enhance mutual understanding, and find new way of cooperation," Ma Weihua, the president of CEC and leader of the delegation, said.
"Trade and investments are at the basis of our relationship," Ma added, mentioning the three-year cooperation plan Italy and China signed in 2014 in the fields of trade, industries and investment, finance, business, tourism, and technological innovation.
The role of entrepreneurs is key to make such cooperation work, the CEC president stressed.
"Governments can sign cooperation agreements, but they need us (entrepreneurs) to make them concrete," he said.
"This is why we are here, and will meet with top Italian businesses in order to build more trust between us".
Both China and Europe need to change to develop further, and have therefore a mutual interest in pushing towards innovation and stronger cooperation, according to the CEC president.
"China has a strong low cost manpower, and it is growing in terms of capitals and investments. Europe has advanced technologies and experience in business management. That means we are complementary," Ma explained.
Italy's former Prime Minister Letta, who is current dean of the Paris School of International Affairs, detailed the recent political and economic developments in the European Union (EU), which would be relevant to foreign investors willing to make the best choices in terms of business opportunities.
He also acknowledged the efforts China has undertaken towards a more sustainable economic development have been noticed, and much welcomed from a European perspective.
"We do have the perception of very good achievements and plans (in this direction)," Letta told Xinhua on the sidelines of the event.
"We want to encourage Chinese authorities to continue this kind of effort, because it is absolutely decisive," he said.
The two sides discussed various other issues, giving Italian officials a key chance "to consider the economic and political future of the relations between Europe and China", according to Rome mayor Ignazio Marino.
"We know how much China is investing in the young generations, and its economy has a strong international vocation," Marino said.
"This makes it easier to establish mutual opportunities for growth, and start an open dialogue with a united Europe that is pushing towards innovation".
After a meeting scheduled with Italian industrial association Confindustria, the CEC delegation will proceed to the cities of Florence and Milan, which are both crucial for Italy's manufacturing and industry.
They will make contact with representatives of major Italian family businesses, including Antinori, Barilla, Illy, and Italian top industries such as Finmeccanica and Pirelli, before visiting the China Pavilion at EXPO Milan.
The Chinese Entrepreneur Club is mainly comprised of private entrepreneurs, and constitutes a premiere business leader platform in China since 2006.