Italy is reportedly going to support China’s Belt and Road program
Italy’s undersecretary in the economic development ministry, Michele Geraci, told the Financial Times his country is in negotiations to sign a memorandum of understanding in support of the program. The plan is to sign in time for Xi’s visit by the end of March, Geraci said in the article.
“We want to make sure that ‘Made in Italy’ products can have more success in terms of export volume to China, which is the fastest-growing market in the world,” he added in the report.
Such public support would come at a critical time in China’s relations with the U.S. and the European Union, of which Italy is a founding member.
Xi is expected to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump by the end of March to clinch a deal to end their trade impasse. This week, the EU Council adopted its first-ever framework of rules on foreign direct investment, amid a rise of Chinese investments in the region and concerns about protection of key technologies.
Garrett Marquis, White House National Security Council spokesperson, told the FT that the U.S. is skeptical of the benefits to Italy from an endorsement of the Chinese initiative, and urged allies and partners to increase the pressure on Beijing to align its global investments with international practices.
A representative from the Italian embassy in Beijing was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.