Italy is planning to sign an agreement with China this month, making it the first G7 country to support China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) just in time for Xi Jinping’s visit to the Mediterranean country on March 22.
It's presently unclear what the terms of the agreement between the two countries will be, however, in a statement to the Financial Times, Italian undersecretary in the economic development ministry, Michele Geraci, stated the country’s desire for products ‘Made in Italy’ to receive more exposure on the Chinese market.
According to China's national people’s congress spokesman, Zhang Yesui, who was also quoted in the Financial Times article, 152 countries and international organizations around the world are now signed up to the BRI.
The proposed move has come under fire from US authorities, who say that Italy will not stand to benefit from the partnership. In response, Chinese authorities laughed off US criticism, with Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang quoted in South China Morning Post as saying “As a major country, Italy knows exactly what policies serve its own interests and it can make its decisions independently.”
With trade ties between China and the US still uncertain, China has turned its attention towards the EU, with President Xi Jingping set to visit Europe at the end of March, inviting European countries, namely Italy, to take a more active role in the BRI.
[Cover image via Unsplash]