Sputnik discussed economic advantages of Italy-China deepened cooperation with Fabio Massimo Parenti, associate professor of economic and political geography at the Lorenzo de' Medici Italian International Institute.
Sputnik: How economically advantageous is it for Italy to deepen ties with China?
Fabio Massimo Parenti: Well, there are a lot of reasons in terms of advantages. First of all, Italy needs more investments and because of also European Union constraints on public finance, China can be surely a good source of fresh capital as has been happening during the last ten years, at least.
So Italy became the fourth European country to receive Chinese overseas investments and thanks to this investment, we could save many job places, we could avoid firms' bankruptcy and we started a new interesting investment project and cooperation. So this is a macroeconomic feature. Obviously, in order to take advantage of this new opening up of China, this Chinese projection, we need to work clearly with the Chinese government or better, we need to work in a systematic way, and this is what the new Italian government is trying to do.
Sputnik: What about the reaction that one can expect from the European Union? Is it likely to frown upon Italy's efforts to reach out to China?
Fabio Massimo Parenti: In reality, if you look at the different national interests in the European Union, the leading European countries had already established significant relations, economic relations, with China by the 70s and 80s. When China started to open up to the main European firms (such as) Germany's for example, at the end of the 90s and the beginning of 2000 they got advantages from the new Chinese reforms and opening up.
If we compare the Italian position towards China (with that of) Germany, France, and the UK above all, we can clearly see that Italy is a little bit backward in comparison to these countries, sometimes consistently in terms of trade volume. So, you see, the political and ideological aspects matter in this case because our internal competitors don't necessarily want to see a stronger Italy, able to exploit our geographic position and our ability to compete in the manufacturing sector, in the tourist sector, and in many pillar sectors of the Italian economy. So I would put this question with the EU as an internal competitive dynamic. But anyway, Italy has the sovereignty and the right to organize better (to take advantage of) these potential opportunities that impact our already displaying their potential.
Sputnik: How important is the One Belt, One Road initiative? What benefits does it have, economically and politically? And how game-changing could it be?
Fabio Massimo Parenti: It is a new format; as it has been called by the Chinese first and then by other respective commentators, it is a new form of globalization. It (is intended to) connect places, as it is happening in the Balkans, as it is happening in Central Asia. Places that have been marginalized by the previous globalization architecture. So, the Belt and Road is going to fill a gap (left by) the former world order and this is generally positive, it is difficult to go against this point. The first outcomes of the billions and billions of investments seem to be particularly positive even though there are some critical issues, but what I want to say is that critical (issues) are like benefits, so the negative and the positive consequences require a common system of management.
If we consider the Belt and Road only as an exclusive Chinese strategy we make a mistake, because Chinese authorities are offering a proposal, are acting concretely, demonstrating the ability to build infrastructure for market development and so on, and multiplying opportunities. So in order to take the best from this proposal, the other participants and also the competitors of China, economically speaking and also geopolitically, should consider the project as a common project, an international project where the mistakes can be addressed, if we have a common goal for even more development.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.