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Chinese Belt and Road Plan Shouldn't Become Political Tool - Italy's Lega

CC0 / / Rome
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GENOA (Sputnik) - Italy needs to prevent the commercial opportunities that will emerge from Rome's participation in China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) from becoming a tool of "geopolitical hegemony," Mario Borghezio, a European Parliament member from the Italian Lega party, told Sputnik.

"The main concern of Lega of [Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo] Salvini is to prevent this important commercial opportunity from becoming also a tool of geopolitical hegemony," Borghezio said.

Italy will become the first of G7 nations to support China's multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road plan. The participation in BRI is not only expected to allow China to support important infrastructure projects in Italy, mainly in the south, and access the rest of Europe through Italy's ports, but to also give Italian producers the opportunity to enter the Chinese market.

"In order for them to be really beneficial, these agreements have to promote real commercial cooperation that is of mutual benefit. We believe that some of the Italian specialties – food and agriculture sector, manufacturing sector, fashion, luxury products and other – could have a better penetration of the Chinese market with targeted and transparent agreements," the European Parliament member noted.

Journalist take pictures outside the venue of a summit at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, Monday, May 15, 2017 - Sputnik International
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According to Borghezio, the desirable benefit of Italy's participation in the initiative is the "synergy" between the two countries in several areas of mutual interest, "with the development of infrastructure, ports, transport, and with a new partnership to finance common investments."

In an interview to an Italian newspaper last week, Conte said Italy had to re-balance its trade with China by improving access to the Chinese market for its goods and services. According to the prime minister, the memorandum of understanding will provide Italian companies with valuable opportunities for growth and development, as well as establish a mutually beneficial and equal basis for bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

During the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Italy later this week, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte plans to sign a memorandum of understanding cementing Rome’s support to BRI, an ambitious project designed to improve the Chinese trade reach by participating in infrastructure investment and development projects in more than 150 countries.

READ MORE: RUSI Brexit Report Attacks China's Rise, Belt and Road Without Citing Evidence

BRI, which was first announced by Xi in 2013, aims to accelerate the economic growth and strengthen ties between Eurasian countries. The initiative focuses mainly on the Maritime Silk Route, which connects China and Europe, and on the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt, which includes Central Asia, Russia and the Middle East.

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