With the move, Italy becomes the first member of the Group of Seven major economies, which includes the United States, to join the Belt and Road program, following Portugal’s embrace of the initiative in December.
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte and Chinese President Xi Jinping attended a ceremony in Rome where 29 separate protocols of the memorandum were signed by both governments in front of the flags of China, Italy and the European Union.
Luigi di Maio, the Italian minister of economic development, told reporters afterward that his country’s goal is to increase exports to China in order to correct trade imbalances and boost Italian businesses and the country’s troubled economy. He said the value of the individual deals signed on Saturday amounts to 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion), with the potential to grow to 20 billion euros ($22.6 billion)
“Our goal with these accords is to start to rebalance an imbalance for which there is a lot of ‘Made in China’ coming to Italy and too little ‘Made in Italy’ that goes to China,” Di Maio said.