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In a revelation made by Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto, it has come to limelight that the Italy government is seeking to break free of an agreement made with China. The Belts and Roads Initiative (BRI) agreement was signed between Italy and China four years ago. 

Minister Crosetto has said that Italy made an “improvised and atrocious” decision signing the BRI agreement, which made Italy the only major Western country to have taken such a step, according to a Reuters report. 

The Reuters report citing an interview said that Italy had signed the BRI agreement with China in order to bolster exports. Crosetto is part of an administration that is considering how to break free of the agreement, reports Reuters

The BRI scheme aims to rebuild the old Silk Road to connect China with Asia, Europe and beyond with large infrastructure spending. Critics see it as a tool for China to spread its geopolitical and economic influence.

“The decision to join the (new) Silk Road was an improvised and atrocious act” that multiplied China’s exports to Italy but did not have the same effect on Italian exports to China, Reuters quoted Crosetto telling the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

“The issue today is: how to walk back (from the BRI) without damaging relations (with Beijing). Because it is true that China is a competitor, but it is also a partner,” the defence minister added.

The revelation of the Italian government comes after Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met US President Joe Biden on Thursday, and said her government was still deliberating on the BRI and announced a trip to Beijing in the near future.

“We’ll take a decision before December,” Meloni told US broadcaster Fox News in an interview aired on Sunday, adding that the issue required discussions with the Chinese government and within the Italian parliament.

Meloni reiterated her view that it is a “paradox” that while Italy is part of the BRI, it is not the G7 country with the biggest trade with China, and said that shows it is possible to have good relations with Beijing without the Belt and Road.

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Updated: 30 Jul 2023, 10:45 PM IST

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