Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Italy was pleased to seize such a “historic opportunity” in joining the Belt and Road Initiative. File Photo: Reuters

Italy has joined over 60 countries, joining Beijing’s industrial and commercial policies. Earlier this year, Italy signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly move forward in the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The MOU represents a non-binding agreement, meaning that the countries involved are not legally obliged to abide by the terms put forward. 

To China, the BRI is seen as a way to efficiently export more of its goods to lucrative markets. China has managed, through BRI managed to score itself criticism. Most have accused the Chinese of backing a vanity project which is aimed at increasing participating countries’ debt. Initially, the BRI was seen as an opportunity for the economic recovery of Europe after the Eurozone crisis. However, following a ‘wait and see approach’ from Europe, there is now a much more comprehensive understanding of how the Belt Road Initiative will increase global development.

WATCH: Italy signs a memorandum of understanding with China


 The BRI, introduced by Jinping in 2013, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network that connects Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond. Italy joined China in welcoming the signing of the intergovernmental MOU on jointly advancing the BRI construction and is now one of the first G7 countries to endorse the contentious Chinese initiative. Both nations have realized that the initiative had the potential to promote connectivity and strengthen the alignment of the BRI and Trans-European Transport Networks. The Italian Business Association for Italy and Europe have explained that the new silk road (BRI) would represent a more extensive economic project that would be able to improve connections with the Asian economic giant through the creation of the infrastructures, railways, and ports.

Italy and China have both expressed their willingness to join efforts under the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and both countries have agreed to facilitate airlines from each other for business and ease the market access. The two nations have also expressed their willingness to strengthen cultural cooperation, including heritage protection. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Italy was pleased to seize such a “historic opportunity” in joining the Belt and Road Initiative. Conte threw his weight behind the future of BRI and charged that BRI would help explore the potential of Italy-China cooperation.