Trade exchange between the UAE and Italy, including the free zones, rose last year to US$ 7.3 billion thanks to the growing bilateral trade and economic cooperation, Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, said here on Tuesday. Al Mansouri noted the trade figures had placed Italy as the second largest European trade partner to the UAE. He called the business communities in both countries to enhance bilateral cooperation and explore areas of potential partnerships so as to expand into new markets. In his address to the forum, Italian Deputy Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda hailed the UAE as a\'\' strategic partner\'\'. The UAE- Italy business forum hosted by Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI), began sessions here Tuesday in presence of Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, and Italian Deputy Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda in addition to 400 representatives of Emirati and Italian companies , according to UAE \"Dar Al Khaleej\" daily newspaper.