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Italy can Facilitate Closer China and Europe Economic Connectivity on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

Updated:2018-9-12 10:01:36    Source:www.tannet-group.comViews:195

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the most relevant economic, financial, trade, and infrastructural strategic plan China has implemented in order to revitalise its economic growth, promote new supranational financial institutions, increase Eurasian connectivity, facilitate free flow of goods, capital, knowledge and people, and reinforce its geopolitical role in the involved regions. Adopting a general oversimplification, it can be considered, mutatis mutandis, as a sort of China-driven Marshall Plan addressed to Central and South-Eastern Asian countries, mainly focused on reinforcing domestic and international connectivity, improving processes of rapid industrialisation, and establishing efficient commercial platforms.

Business transactions between China and the countries of the "Belt" (Asian and Eastern Europe countries) and the "Road" (South-eastern Asia countries, the Middle East, and Eastern Africa countries) are constantly increasing, producing a general enlargement of interconnectivity projects, financial investments, and bilateral trade agreements. The initiative is inevitably connected by causality with the reform and opening-up policy (celebrating its 40th anniversary this year) which started China's rapid economic development, transforming its economy from domestic-centred to export-oriented.

Under an internal affairs perspective, Italy's participation in the AIIB underlined a new political attitude characterised by a much more distant relationship with the US government (against the US official request not to take part in the institution) and, in general, by a wider anti-Europeanism. It should not be surprising that both anti-Atlanticism and anti-Europeanism are the main ideologies promoted by the two major political parties (the Five Star Movement and the Northern League) the current government, a atypical administration indeed, is made up of.

In the near future, the relationships between China and the European countries involved in the BRI will be principally based on economic and trade cooperation. China is paying attention to countries such as Italy, Greece, and Portugal, which need infrastructural and financial investments and are quite weak in the EU, both economically and politically. Among all the other European countries, there is a race to become the Chinese best partner in the EU, considering also the damages in the import/export produced by the protectionist policies currently implemented by the Trump administration.

Under this perspective, Italy can effectively cover this role since it can facilitate Sino-European relationships as well as provide great benefits for the Initiative in terms of logistic connection between Asia and Europe through its strategic infrastructures in the Mediterranean Sea which link Southern Europe to Central and Northern Europe. The recent official visit to Beijing of a delegation led by the Italian Minister of Finance, Giovanni Tria, was aimed to strengthen the special partnership between the Chinese and the Italian governments and to promote Chinese investments addressed to key Italian companies and to Italian Government Bonds, especially when there is the almost absolute certainty that the ECB is going to stop the Quantitative Easing policy soon. The Chinese Central Bank (PBOC) owns significant shares in the largest Italian banks, while Bank of China holds stake in Telecom and Prysmian Group (Italian companies in the telecommunication industry).

The Chinese government is promoting a win-win strategy for all the parties which join the BRI. Potential competitors, such as the US, India, Japan, and Russia have been invited to become part of BRI. International cooperation under China's leadership can eventually support the BRI countries to develop their economic and trade systems, to reinforce their competitive advantages and, ideally, to fulfill their dreams. (Source: Xinhua News)

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