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Italy to sign up to China's 'Belt and Road' initiative

By Duncan Ferris

Date: Wednesday 06 Mar 2019

Italy to sign up to China's 'Belt and Road' initiative

(Sharecast News) - Italy will announce its support for China's 'Belt and Road' initiative in what would be the policy's first endorsement from a G7 nation, according to a report on Wednesday from the Financial Times.
Italy's government is reportedly hopeful that an injection of fresh investment from China, after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two nations, will assist its struggling economy, with Michele Geraci, an official from Italy's economic development ministry, telling the Financial Times that a deal could be in place by the time Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the country in March.

"We want to make sure that 'Made in Italy' products can have more success in terms of export volume to China, which is the fastest-growing market in the world," said Geraci.

Earlier on Wednesday, The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) slashed its forecast for the Italian economy from 0.9% growth to a 0.2% contraction this year in what would be its worst performance since a 1.7% contraction in 2013.

The OECD said the change in forecast was due to Italy's "relatively high exposures to the global trade slowdown".

The Belt and Road initiative (BRI) aims to recreate the historical Silk Road, a trade and infrastructure network that linked Europe and the Far East, by increasing investment, trade and exchanges in areas such as science, technology, culture and education.

The initiative has faced criticism that it merely benefits Chinese companies and saddles developing nations with debt, while providing Beijing with an expanding sphere of influence.

Garrett Marquis, White House National Security Council spokesperson, told the Financial Times: "We view BRI as a 'made by China, for China' initiative."

Recent months have seen Malaysia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sierra Leone cancel or step away from commitments to BRI.

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