The organisers of trade fair VinItaly are eyeing expansion into the lucrative Asian wine market after signing a trade co-operation deal with the Hong Kong Government.

VinItaly organiser VeronaFiere said today (9 April) that it has signed a trade partnership deal with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. The agreement will increase Italian wine producers' access to Southeast Asia, particularly China.

"VinItaly’s expansion into Asia is a unique opportunity for Italian wine producers to showcase the best of Italy’s famous wine industry to buyers and influencers in Asia,” said VeronaFiere president Ettore Riello.

Over the next two years, value sales of Italian red wine to Hong Kong are expected to grow 36% and white wine by 38%, said VeronaFiere. Sales to Hong Kong rose by 33% in 2008 to EUR7.77m (US$10.4m).

As part of the strategic alliance, Italy will be the partner country for the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair this November.

"Since the HK government abolished taxes and duties on wines and spirits in early 2008, Hong Kong has rapidly gained a global reputation as the wine capital of Asia,” said Benjamin Chau, deputy executive director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.