Beijing’s investment initiative has failed to benefit Rome, according to Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.
The Italian government has formally announced its decision to exit China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as it “has not produced the desired effects” Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing the country’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Antonio Tajani.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Italian news agency Adnkronos on Wednesday, Tajani said that the China-led global infrastructure and investment pact is no longer “a priority,” for Italy, adding that countries which haven’t participated in the initiative “have had better results.”
Top Italian officials, including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, had floated the idea several times over the past few months.
Italy signed up for the Chinese plan in 2019, becoming the first Western nation to do so. Under the agreement, trade barriers between China and Italy were lowered, while Beijing promised to invest in Italian ports and rail infrastructure.
According to the outlet, Rome’s announcement comes at a time when Italy, like many EU countries, is struggling to strike a balance between the desire to engage with China on trade and investment on the one hand and maintaining ties with Washington on the other.
China’s BRI global infrastructure and trade initiative is designed to boost economic ties and expand the influence of the world’s second-biggest economy; it has attracted an estimated $1 trillion in investment since it was launched in 2013.
Earlier this year, Meloni told Fox News that Italy’s participation in the Belt and Road was a “paradox,” seeing that it is the only member of the G7 to have joined the China-led pact. The prime minister added that Italy would decide whether to renew its membership by December of this year.