Italy Set to Join China’s Belt & Road Initiative
Italy is expected to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, when Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives Thursday in Rome. The United States has been critical of the trillion-dollar global infrastructure project and warned about the risks of "debt-trap diplomacy." Members of the European Union are worried the plan could add to fissures in an already strained coalition. When Xi visits this week, analysts say Italy is expected to sign a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China. That agreement will pave the way for construction projects and financing from the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. “The MoU is mostly perceived as a way to secure more exports to China and more chances to access financing from the AIIB,” said Alessia Amighini, co-head of Asia Center at ISPI, a Rome-based research group. Rome expects to reduce its trade deficit with China and avoid some heavy expenses by attracting Chinese and AIIB investments in big infrastructure projects. The agreement also will give Chinese companies more access to the busy port of Trieste, and in turn, the Mediterranean. Reports emanating from Italy suggest Rome also is looking at the possibility of inviting Chinese companies to expand or manage three other Italian seaports, which are Genoa, Palermo and Ravenna. “Italy is eager to attract investments to improve its competitive position compared to northern European routes and ports,” Amighini said. Clearly, China is exploiting business competition within the Eurozone and trying to wean away an important member by offering a set of attractive terms, analysts note. The MoU signing will represent a major political achievement for China at a time of growing concerns and criticism of the plan. Italy is a founding member of the European Union and could help open up doors for Beijing to the Eurozone. So far, the Belt and Road Initiative's... If you wish to read this full breaking news headline, plus more articles from around Thailand and Asia like, Italy Set to Join China’s Belt & Road Initiative, simply click on 'Read full story' below, but 1st please give us a 'LIKE' or 'SHARE' before you leave. Thank you
Published By: VOA NEWS - Tuesday, 19 March
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