President Xi’s visit to boost China-Italy ties under BRI: Italian PM

Lesotho Times
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CHINESE President Xi Jinping (left) and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte

I think Xi’s visit will play a very important role, giving a greater impulse to our relation- Giuseppe Conte, Prime minister, Italy

ROME — Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Italy would boost the prospects of stronger bilateral cooperation within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) framework, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told Chinese media on Wednesday.

“The tradition of our relationship is very ancient, as our two cultures can be traced back to one or two thousand years ago,” Conte said, noting that Xi will be the first Chinese president to visit Italy in a decade.

“Italy believes our relationship is already very good, and the prospect of collaboration will be further boosted” thanks to the BRI, Conte said.

“(Italian) President Sergio Mattarella was in China in 2017, and I would like to remind you that next year, in 2020, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations,” he added.

He said the visit and the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the BRI are part of a framework of ties “that is very solid already.”

During his visit, Xi will exchange views with Mattarella, Conte, and other senior political leaders in Italy on the prospect of deepening bilateral ties. Representatives of the two countries are expected to sign a series of agreements in various sectors.

Much anticipation is focused on the signing of the MoU on the BRI cooperation. If confirmed, Italy would be the first country in the Group of Seven (G7) to ink such a document.

Proposed by China in 2013, the BRI refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa through the revival of ancient trade routes.

“I think the increasing collaboration between Italy and China will first and foremost benefit the two countries,” Conte declared.

“Third countries will also benefit from it, because the strengthened (Sino-Italian) cooperation would allow us to face global challenges together,” he said.

Conte added that Italy “is always in favor of dialogue, because the global challenges awaiting us are so insidious that facing them on our own — outside an effective multilateralism — is not possible.”

The trade and overall economic exchanges between Italy and China are already intense, and would possibly grow further in a perspective of mutual interest. “In my opinion, we can still improve on this, because obviously China is a massive economy with a huge potential, including for Italian companies,” he said.

Conte also mentioned several sectors in which the two countries could work more closely together, including tourism, agriculture, sustainable urbanization, aviation, transportation, infrastructure and technology innovation.

The Chinese leader’s visit would boost the bilateral ties to fulfill all the potential, according to the Italian head of government.

“I think Xi’s visit will play a very important role, giving a greater impulse to our relations,” Conte said.

“We await him with great friendship and enthusiasm,” he added.

President Xi Jinping paid state visits to Italy, Monaco and France from 21st to 26th March 2019.–

BRI to boost Italy’s commercial ties with China: Italian official

BOAO, Hainan, March 26 (Xinhua) — The signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will accelerate Italy’s commercial relationship with China, a senior Italian official said Tuesday.

“It is really a project to strengthen friendship between two peaceful countries. It’s the basis on which we build commercial and cultural exchanges,” said Michele Geraci, undersecretary of state of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, at a panel discussion of the ongoing Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference.

On March 23, Italy signed a MoU with China to jointly advance the construction of the BRI, becoming the first Group of Seven nation to join the initiative.

The signing of the MoU will boost Italy’s commercial cooperation with China, which had lagged behind other European countries in the past 10 to 15 years, Geraci said.

Geraci said that China and Italy could have win-win cooperation in areas including infrastructure, especially water transport projects.

Such initiative will also be important to the country’s many small and medium-sized enterprises, and it will be their call to decide on specific projects to participate in.

Geraci said that he expected other countries to follow Italy to join the initiative and sign the MoU.

The BFA annual conference runs from March 26 to 29 in Boao, a coastal town in China’s southern island province of Hainan.

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