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Business News/ News / World/  Italy withdraws from Belt and Road Initiative of China: Report
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Italy withdraws from Belt and Road Initiative of China: Report

The Giorgia Meloni-led government in Italy has formally withdrawn from the Belt and Road Initiative of China, four years after signing the project

During the G20 Summit in Delhi, Italian Prime Minister Meloni had signalled to China that they want to exit the agreement (Photo: AFP)Premium
During the G20 Summit in Delhi, Italian Prime Minister Meloni had signalled to China that they want to exit the agreement (Photo: AFP)

After months of uncertainty regarding involvement in China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Giorgia Meloni-led government in Italy has formally withdrawn from the ambitious project, four years after signing the pact, news agencies reported on Wednesday.

Italy, which signed the agreement in 2019, was the first and only G7 nation to join the programme.

Also Read | Mint Explainer: China's belt and road initiative has dug itself into a hole

Rome communicated the long-anticipated decision to Beijing three days ago, according to agency reports.

The agreement with China was supposed to be automatically renewed after expiring in March 2024, unless Rome gave at least three months' written warning of pulling out.

Also Read | How China's Belt and Road Initiative is changing

In July this year, Italy's Defence Minister Guido Crosetto said joining the BRI was an "improvised and atrocious" act by Italy.

"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," Crosetto said.

Also Read | BRI’s sly debt trap

During the G20 Summit in Delhi, Meloni had signalled to China that they want to exit the agreement that is testing Italy's relations with the United States. Bloomberg had in September reported that the Italian prime minister had told her Chinese counterpart Li Qiang that Italy plans to withdraw from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature initiative while still looking to maintain friendly relations with Beijing.

In the press conference on the last day of the G20 Summit, the Italian prime minister said, "A cordial and constructive dialogue on how we can deepen our bilateral partnership... I intend to keep my commitment to visit China...It makes more sense to go to China when we have more information on our bilateral cooperation and how to develop it."

"Leaving the Silk Road does not compromise relations, but the decision still has to be taken," the prime minister assured.

The Belt and Road scheme aims to recreate the ancient Silk Road trade routes linking China with Asia, Europe and beyond with large infrastructure spending. Critics see the scheme as a tool for China to expand its geopolitical and economic influence, including by saddling poorer countries with unsustainable debts.

 

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Published: 06 Dec 2023, 06:12 PM IST
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