Italy Officially Withdraws from China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Wed Dec 06 2023
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ROME: Italy has formally communicated its decision to exit China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), officially ending its participation in the ambitious project, Reuters news agency reported. The move puts an end to months of uncertainty surrounding Italy’s commitment to the initiative.

In 2019, Italy became the first and, to date, the only major Western nation to join the Belt and Road Initiative, despite concerns from the United States about potential risks associated with China gaining control over sensitive technologies and critical infrastructure. However, when Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni assumed office last year, she expressed her intention to withdraw from the agreement, citing a lack of significant benefits for Italy.

Agreement Between Italy and China for Joining BRI

The initial agreement, signed in 2019, was set to expire in March 2024, with automatic renewal unless Italy provided at least three months’ written notice of its withdrawal. A government source indicated that a letter notifying the Chinese government of Italy’s decision not to renew the pact had been sent “in recent days.”

“We have every intention of maintaining excellent relations with China even if we are no longer part of the Belt and Road Initiative,” stated a second government source. “Other G7 nations have closer relations with China than we do, despite the fact they were never in (the BRI),” he added.

Italy’s assumption of the G7 presidency in 2024 adds a diplomatic dimension to its decision to withdraw from the Belt and Road Initiative.

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