Xi welcomes Italy as the first G7 nation to join Belt and Road

World Today

Xi welcomes Italy as the first G7 nation to join Beltand RoadPhoto from Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping is wrapping up a state visit to Italy, after recruiting an important new member to the Belt and Road Initiative. CGTN’s Michal Bardavid has details.

March 23rd marks the official beginning of a new era for China and Italy. Italy has joined China’s global Belt and Road Initiative, becoming the first G7 country to do so.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries was signed in Rome during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s historic state visit.

The two countries hope to increase cooperation across many industries including infrastructure, medicine, and aviation and have already signed agreements in the fields of energy, steel and gas. Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister emphasized the value of the deals for his country — up to $22.5 billion.

“Today is the day when the designation, ‘Made in Italy’ wins, Italy wins, Italian companies win,” said Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio. “The signing of the MOU (memorandum on understanding) on the Silk Road is worth, just in terms of private accords, up to 20 billion euros. The agreements signed here today alone are worth 2.5 billion euros, with a potential value of 20 billion euros, without mentioning the institutional agreements. ”

The Italian Industrial Association, Confindustria, has been working behind the scenes to prepare Italian companies. A year ago it established a Belt and Road Initiative Group to educate Italian businesses about Chinese market regulations.

“There are a lot of people who are worried about China because they do not know the place, they don’t know the rules,” said the organization’s president, Licia Mattioli. “And what we hope, being in Europe, is that to establish in Europe a more open and transparent economic field with China. It would be very important for our company and we’ll explain to the companies in our association that they can do more with our help.”

Many Italian business leaders believe that when it comes to globalization, China is the future.

“Thirty years from now, not one century from now, but thirty years from now, China will be the biggest economy in the world,” said Vicenzo Petrone. “It is what it is. It is inevitable that the flow of goods and services, and financial and cultural exchanges will increase dramatically.”

Saturday afternoon Chinese President Xi traveled to Sicily’s capital city, Palermo. The city’s port handles currently handles cargo and cruise ships. However, city officials hope to attract the investment needed to build a new port with the capacity that would enable it to become a major trading hub of the Mediterranean.

Italy’s ports are expected to be an important part of future Chinese-Italian agreements, with Italy offering new gateways to the European market for China. Officials from both countries have also vowed to promote multilateralism and safeguard an inclusive world economy.

Calvin Dark discusses Italy’s joining the Belt and Road

CGTN’s Asieh Namdar spoke with Calvin Dark, principal and co-founder of RC Communications, about the significance of Italy joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative and what both countries hope to get out of the agreement.