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Italy Joins China’s Silk Road

Italy has become the first developed economy to officially join China’s New Silk Road following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Rome over the weekend.

The initial agreement, signed by Xi and Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s Prime Minister, saw 29 deals worth approximately US$2.8 billion for a variety of industries agreed and means Italy will become the first EU country to fully endorse the New Silk Road.

The Chinese investment, which will rise to as much as $22.61 billion, according to Italian media, will initially concentrate on the key ports of Genoa and Trieste.

The plan is Beijing’s centerpiece foreign policy and is the biggest and most ambitious infrastructure project in world history.

It has so far seen China invest billion in ports and railways across Asia and Africa, including the tiny state of Djibouti, as it looks to boost free trade and revitalize economies that have been largely underdeveloped for decades.

Italy’s participation has been seen by some observers as a way of reviving its struggling economy, but the agreement with China has caused a rift with its closest allies.

On March 24, 2019, shortly after the announcement, Gunther Oettinger, the EU’s budget commissioner, expressed concern that key European infrastructure will now be in Chinese, rather than European hands.

However, Xi rejected the idea that China is looking to take over European infrastructure and said the country wants “commercial exchanges to go both ways and for investment to flow in both directions.”

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