(AGI) Astana, May 25 - Expo 2017 in Astana will be an "opportunity" for Italian companies wanting to invest in Kazakhstan or the broader Eurasian area, and also for those that look to China and the opportunities of the new Silk Road, said Italian ambassador in Astana, Stefano Ravagnan. The ambassador will be the Commissioner-General for the Italian section of the event. "It is an important showcase for energy, which is the central theme of the Expo, but also for all other sectors," said the diplomat in an interview with AGI at the Astana Economic Forum. "The promotion of the event has not yet begun and we are in the early stages [...] dealing with the administrative and bureaucratic aspect. Nevertheless I see huge, enormous interest from our suppliers in Expo. We are in the 'Italy for Expo' stage and then will pass to 'Italy in Expo'. But there are already many applications, especially from those who participated in Milan Expo." It is an opportunity to present Italy to about 5 million visitors, according to forecasts - 85 percent from Eurasia, but with a substantial Chinese participation too. "It will be an opportunity especially for those businesses that have never appeared in this region and want to make themselves known," the diplomat added. Timing? "We are proceeding quickly and the work is at an advanced stage. There was talk of Jan. 2 but it will probably be under way by the end of November. And there are already close to 100 countries expected to attend. It is a great challenge." Against this background Kazakhstan is struggling economically, yet strongly committed to reforms and the launch of the Eurasian Economic Union, a project created and advocated by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Both these factors affect trade with Italy; as the ambassador knows: "The country is suffering the economic crisis of all countries dependent on oil, perhaps more than others. The year 2015 closed with great difficulties, 2016 will be still complicated and it is aiming to begin a recovery at the start of 2017." (AGI). .