Italy has officially withdrawn from China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), representing a setback for President Xi Jinping as he attempts to rejuvenate the colossal infrastructure project, Times of India reported.
Italian Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani, stated at an event in Rome hosted by the newswire Adnkronos on Wednesday (6 December), that the pact "has not yielded the expected outcomes" and is no longer "a priority". He further added that nations not included in the agreement have achieved superior outcomes.
Four years ago, Italy distinguished itself as the sole G7 country to join the BRI. The eagerly awaited verdict was conveyed to Beijing three days prior, as initially reported by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
During the G20 summit in New Delhi earlier this year, Giorgia Meloni, the Prime Minister of Italy, personally informed the Chinese Premier, Li Qiang, that her nation has chosen to withdraw from the BRI during their sideline discussions.
Previously, the Italian government expressed its disappointment, stating that the BRI agreement with China did not live up to their expectations.
Indeed, the choice to become part of BRI had been intensely examined for several months, with Italy's defence minister, Guido Crosetto, labeling it as a "hastily executed and horrendous act."
Prime Minister Meloni has frequently expressed her belief that the agreement was a "major error" which she plans to rectify. The agreement was set to be automatically renewed in March 2024.
Similar to various nations participating in the BRI, Italy has been struggling with an increasing trade deficit with China. Through the BRI, Italy aimed to draw in investments and broaden their export reach into China's vast market.
It recognised a chance to utilise its political influence to join the BRI, with the aspiration of outperforming others in attracting Chinese interest and investments. However, the course of economic relations between Italy and China experienced minimal alterations.
After Italy became a member of the BRI, there was an increase in its exports to China, moving from 14.5 billion euros to 18.5 billion euros. However, there was a more significant surge in Chinese exports to Italy, which jumped from 33.5 billion euros to 50.9 billion euros.
Consequently, over a period of three years leading up to 2022, its trade deficit with China has seen a twofold increase.
Numerous other nations are reevaluating their alliance with China as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has not yielded significant returns.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!