Alibaba has announced plans to bolster the share of Italian wine sold by its online network by tenfold.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma was reported by Reuters as stating that the share of Italian wines sold on its online network platform would increase from 6% to 60%.

Speaking at Italy’s Vinitaly wine fair in Verona, Ma was quoted by the news agency as saying: "Chinese people have a passion for all things Italian. Alibaba wants to be the gateway to China for Italian brands and small businesses."

"Italian wines sold on its online network platform would increase from 6% to 60%."

A report by think-tank Nomisma said that China imports only 5% of red and white wines from Italy, while the entire Chinese imports is worth $2bn.

Tmall, which is business-to-consumer online marketplace of Alibaba, sells more than 90 Italian brands.

However, as wine makers in Italy are small and fragmented, it is difficult for them to sell in huge markets such as China.

Italy exports €5.4bn worth of wines, of which only €87m worth of wines are exported to China.

In a conference, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said: "Italy has lost too many opportunities in the e-commerce sector. The only way for small companies to keep up with global competition is to turn digital."

Due to its fragmented nature, Italy is behind countries such as France and Australia in terms of wine exports.

High tax duties and lack of an export strategy at national level hinder Italy’s small firms from exporting their produce.