Italy officially exits China’s Belt and Road project




NEW DELHI: Italy has formally exited China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, dealing a blow to President Xi Jinping who is trying to revive the mega infrastructure project.
Italy became the only G7 nation to sign up for BRI four years ago.
The long-anticipated decision was communicated to Beijing three days ago, according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, which first reported the news.
Earlier this year, Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni personally told Chinese premier Li Qiang that her country has decided to quit BRI during their interaction on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi.
The Italian government had earlier said that the BRI deal with China “failed to meet their expectations”.
In fact, the decision to join BRI had been under heavy scrutiny for months, with Italian defence minister Guido Crosetto calling it an “improvised and atrocious act.”
PM Meloni herself has often said that the deal was a “big mistake” that she intends to correct.
The deal was due to be renewed automatically in March 2024.
Lopsided deal
Italy, like several countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, had been grappling with growing trade deficit with China.
With BRI, Italy was looking to attract investments and expand exports’ access into China’s huge market.
It saw an opportunity to leverage its political weight to sign on to the BRI in hopes of beating out others for Chinese attention and investments.
But there was hardly any change in the trajectory of Italy-China economic ties.
Since Italy joined the BRI, its exports to China have increased from 14.5 billion euros to 18.5 billion euros, while Chinese exports to Italy have grown far more dramatically, from 33.5 billion euros to 50.9 billion euros.
As a result, its trade deficit with China has doubled over the span of three years, up to 2022.
Several other countries have been reconsidering their partnership with China with BRI failing to bring great dividends.
(With inputs from agencies)


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