Italy plans to exit Xi Jinping’s ambitious BRI

Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, reportedly on Saturday, privately signalled to China’s Premier Li Qiang that Italy is seeking to exit the Belts and Roads Initiative (BRI) agreement was signed four years ago. Earlier in July this year, Italy’s Defence Minister Guido Crosetto has said that the BRI was an “improvised and atrocious” made by Italy while signing with China.

Reports of Italy considering signing the BRI a regrettable decision and seeking to break free has been doing the rounds from the later half of 2023. However, during the prestigious 18th Group of 20 (G20) Summit, being held in India’s Delhi, Italy’s PM Meloni has signalled to China that they want to exit the agreement that is testing Italy’s relations with United States, according to Bloomberg.

The Bloomberg report citing people familiar with the matter stated that PM Meloni told Li that Italy plans to withdraw from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative while still looking to maintain friendly relations with Beijing.

Italy officially signed up for the pact in 2019.

Meloni has said she will visit China in the coming months and the issue is sensitive, particularly since China’s ambassador to Italy had warned there would be “negative consequences” for Italy if it withdrew from the agreement.

Notably, Italy’s decision signing the BRI agreement, made it the only major Western country to have taken such a step.

The BRI scheme aims to rebuild the old Silk Road to connect China with Asia, Europe and beyond with large infrastructure spending. Critics see it as a tool for China to spread its geopolitical and economic influence.

“The decision to join the (new) Silk Road was an improvised and atrocious act that multiplied China’s exports to Italy but did not have the same effect on Italian exports to China”, Italy’s defence minister had said in July.

Meloni had in July reiterated her view that it is a “paradox” that while Italy is part of the BRI, it is not the G7 country with the biggest trade with China, and said that shows it is possible to have good relations with Beijing without the Belt and Road Initiative.


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