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Italian senior official confident Italy to benefit from B&R, dispelling doubts over projects

Updated: March 19, 2019 Source: Global Times
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Michele Geraci, a senior Italian official, said he is confident that Italy will clarify doubts over the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative connecting three continents to reach a consensus.

The BRI is a very important initiative that could potentially have several beneficial effects on the development of Asia, Africa and Europe, and "we have been in touch with our American and European partners, explained to them the reasons why we signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) and I think that, little by little, more and more people are beginning to see the benefits," Geraci, under-secretary of state for the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, told the Global Times at the weekend.

Italy plans to sign an agreement with China this week to join the BRI, making it the first G7 nation to take part into this initiative. The move has sparked criticism in Western countries, as the White House National Security Council spokesperson Garrett Marquis was quoted in earlier media reports as saying that the BRI was unlikely to help Italy economically and could significantly damage the country's international image.

"At the beginning there is always some uncertainty, the content of the MoU was not disclosed to the public and naturally many commentators raised doubts," Geraci said.

"I am very happy however that despite these difficulties we managed to clarify all issues and reach a consensus," he added.

The BRI is an important international public good that China contributes to global cooperation for common development. China and more than 150 countries and international organizations have signed BRI cooperation agreements, resulting in more than $6 trillion in cumulative trade between China and participating countries.

The Italian official said the BRI is very important for Italy, as the European county wants to improve trade relations with China, and local companies have expressed their desire to trade more with the world's second-largest economy.

"We hope this MoU will lead to more business activities, both in terms of trade and investment," he noted.

Further cooperation between the two countries will also be in the interest of Chinese consumers who will have better access to Made in Italy products that are of the highest quality, according to Geraci.

"We're also looking at potential greenfield and brownfield Chinese investments into Italy; details of specific projects will be the next step after the signing of the MoU," he said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay state visits to Italy, Monaco and France from March 21 to 26, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang announced Monday, a trip that analysts said will give a boost to China-EU investment and trade.

Editor: 曹家宁