Chinese Businesses Booming in Italy

CGIA study shows Chinese businesses grew 26% from 2008 to 2011 despite shrinking economy and growing criticism.

Chinese businesses are booming in Italy, where their numbers rose 26% from 2008 to 2011, but they face criticism for harming local industry and violating workers' rights, a study said Saturday.

At the end of 2011, Italy had 58,238 Chinese-owned businesses, concentrated especially in the retail, manufacturing and hotel and restaurant sectors, said the study published by the CGIA business association, which got its figures from the country's chambers of commerce.

The number of Chinese businesses rose 7.7% in 2010-2011 alone, and Chinese nationals in Italy sent $9.7 billion back to China during the four years from 2008 to 2011, the study found.

But CGIA secretary Giuseppe Bortolussi accused Chinese entrepreneurs of many cases of violating workers' rights, evading taxes, breaking sanitation rules and damaging local industry.

The Chinese community "is not very integrated into Italian society because almost none of these workers speak Italian," Bortolussi said.

He called the influx of Chinese businesses "economic dumping that has eliminated entire Italian industries from the market."

Chinese businesses have thrived in Italy despite a recession that started in 2011 and has seen the country's economy shrink in each of the past four quarters -- most recently by 0.7% in the second quarter of 2012.

The European Commission has forecast an economic contraction of 1.9% this year, while the IMF has predicted 2% negative growth.

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