Italy's Monti looking with Fiat at ways to boost exports

MILAN, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Italy's government and car maker Fiat SpA have begun looking for ways the state can help the company increase its exports in return for commitments from Fiat, Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Friday.

Officials from the Industry Ministry and Fiat met in Rome to lay the groundwork for future discussions on how to make Italian auto exports more competitive.

"The purpose of the meetings is to investigate what measures we can offer and what sort of commitments we can receive in turn from the company," Monti said at a meeting at the foreign press club in Milan.

Monti did not go into details about the talks. A spokesman at the ministry could not immediately provide further details about the topics or schedule of the meetings.

Fiat and the Italian government said on Sept. 22 they would look for ways to improve the company's manufacturing efficiency, as the automaker pledged to keep building cars in Italy while shifting its focus to export markets.

The meeting came amid a storm of criticism in the wake of Fiat's decision in late August to freeze planned investments to avoid further losses in a weak car market.

As a result of the meeting, Fiat plans to start making cars such as Jeeps at its idled Italian factories to sell in the United States, a source close to the matter said on Monday.

(Reporting by Jennifer Clark; Editing by David Holmes)

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