From left Minister of Agriculture Martina, Prime Minister Renzi, Jack Ma and President Danese

“Two years ago, we set ourselves the goal at Vinitaly of achieving 7.5 billion euros of wine exports by 2020 of 50 billion euros in the overall agro-food sector. The figure then was 30 billion euros and today we have moved up to 36.9 billions: the respective figures for wine are 4.9 billion and 5.4 billion euros: we can do it. Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina is in the front line in this direction.” So said the Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, during his visit on the second day of the 50th Vinitaly. He was welcomed by the President of Veronafiere, Maurizio Danese and the CEO & Director General, Giovanni Mantovani.

Prime Minister Renzi met Chinese businessman Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, during a debate focusing on the future of wine and the digital challenge, moderated by the editor of La Repubblica newspaper, Mario Calabresi. The event was organised by the Ministry of Agriculture. “The 50th Vinitaly is a marvellous opportunity and turning point and we want to achieve these goals,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Maurizio Martina. We have already signed an agreement with Alibaba to protect the Made in Italy agrofoods and we now want to work together on promotion.”

The innovations announced during the meeting include the debut of the “wine day” by the giant in the ecommerce world: “9 September as of 9.00 a.m.,” Ma announced. Nine for us the number for wine, so 9-9-9 sounds just like wine-wine-wine. And I think we can close the gap between the French share of the wine market in China, currently at 55%, compared with the Italian share of just 6%.”

“The future of Alibaba and Italy are intimately connected,” Renzi added. Digital technology can radically transform our economy. The French have managed to promote a history, a country and a common strategy: Italy also has to achieve this. Alibaba offers us a gigantic opportunity to explain that Italy is the country with the highest possible dividend from globalisation.”

The Chinese businessman, who launched the e-commerce platform 17 years ago, has a profound admiration for Italy and its products. “We want to bring Italian wine exports from 6% to 66%, if we can,” Ma pointed out. I want to be the Ambassador of Italian products in China: Alibaba must become the gateway for Italian products in China and we will make sure that your intellectual property rights are protected.” There is enormous potential, since China today already boasts a middle class of more than 300 million people.”

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