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Italy in talks with China's Dongfeng and others over auto plant, minister says

ROME (Reuters) - Italy is talking to China's Dongfeng Motor and others as part of efforts to attract another major automaker to the country in addition to Stellantis, Industry Minister Adolfo Urso said on Wednesday.

"There are talks with several automakers, not only Asian ones", Urso said, confirming Dongfeng was among them.

Dongfeng's Europe chief Qian Xie on Tuesday told reporters the group was considering building a plant in Italy, with a annual capacity of more than 100,000 vehicles.

He added the group was in early stage talks with the Rome government and was expecting it to make proposals in the coming weeks about potential locations for the plant.

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Xie said establishing production in Italy, one of Europe's largest markets, would allow Chinese automakers such as Dongfeng to supply all other countries in the region.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's nationalist government wants to raise domestic auto production to 1.3 million vehicles a year, from below 800,000 in 2023.

It is discussing with Stellantis - the country's sole major automaker - the possible increase of the group's Italian annual output to one million units by the end of the decade. The automaker last hit the target in 2017.

Dongfeng, which is a partner of Stellantis in China, is launching its cars in Italy, starting with EV models of its Voyah brand, to be followed by the MHero, Nammi and Dongfeng brands.

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte and Giulio Piovaccari, editing by Alvise Armellini and Nick Zieminski)