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27 July


Italy is the first to sign China's belt and road plan

Italian Prime Minister and Chinese President met in Rome

Photo: AFP

/NOVOSTIVL/ Italy has signed up for China’s multibillion-dollar "Belt and Road Initiative", becoming the first Western European power to jump on board despite scepticism from its EU counterparts and Washington. This article appeared in the South China Morning Post.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Chinese President Xi Jinping witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on Beijing’s infrastructure-building and trade expansion project on Saturday morning local time in Rome.

Apart from the belt and road deal, the two countries signed more than two dozen other agreements in areas including port management, science and technology, e-commerce, agriculture, beef and pork imports, media, culture, banking, natural gas and steel.

Although full details of the contracts were not given, a government source told Reuters the deals could be worth up to €20 billion (US$22.62 billion). The value was estimated at around €5 billion by Italian media.

Italy is now the first Group of Seven nation – and the first founding European Union member – to sign up to the trade initiative that the US and EU have characterised as a "debt trap" or neocolonial project.