ROME (Agencies): In a formal announcement, the Italian government has confirmed its decision to exit China’s extensive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), citing dissatisfaction with the initiative’s outcomes.
According to Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani, the BRI is no longer considered a priority for Italy, stating that countries abstaining from participation have achieved more favorable results.
Tajani communicated this decision during an event hosted by the Italian news agency Adnkronos, emphasizing that the anticipated benefits from China’s global infrastructure and investment pact have not materialized as expected. The move comes as a notable shift in Italy’s stance, having been the first Western nation to join the BRI in 2019. The initial agreement aimed to reduce trade barriers between China and Italy, with additional pledges of Chinese investment in Italian ports and rail infrastructure.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and other high-ranking Italian officials had previously hinted at the reconsideration of Italy’s participation in the BRI over the past few months. The decision to withdraw underscores the challenges faced by European Union countries, including Italy, in balancing economic engagements with China against the backdrop of maintaining strong ties with the United States.
Rome’s exit from the BRI is particularly significant given the initiative’s overarching goal of enhancing economic ties and expanding China’s global influence. Launched in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative has garnered an estimated $1 trillion in investment, making it a central element of China’s global economic strategy.
Italy’s withdrawal follows comments made by Prime Minister Meloni earlier this year, characterizing Italy’s participation in the BRI as a “paradox” within the Group of Seven (G7). She noted that a decision on whether to renew Italy’s membership would be made by December of this year. The formal announcement now solidifies Italy’s position as it navigates the complex dynamics between economic engagements with China and its geopolitical alignment, especially in the context of its relationships with the European Union and the United States.