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Italy has officially withdrawn from China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), over four years after it joined as the sole Group of Seven (G7) nation. The decision was communicated to Beijing through a letter, as per reports from Reuters and AFP.
An Italian government source speaking to AFP said, “We have every intention of maintaining excellent relations with China even if we are no longer part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Other G7 nations have closer relations with China than we do, despite the fact they were never in [the BRI].”
The BRI, which aims to create new trade corridors linking Asia with Europe and Africa, has been criticized for potentially increasing China’s geopolitical influence and burdening participating countries with debt.
The move, which was reported first by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, comes as part of the new Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s stance. The 2019 agreement, which marked Italy’s controversial entry into the BRI, was set to automatically renew in March 2024 unless a withdrawal was indicated three months in advance.