Chinese Président Xi Jinping in Rome : Focus on economic and politics
Chinese President Xi Jinping in Rome: focus on economics and politics
Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in Rome on 21st March on a state visit for bilateral talks about economics and politics. Many issues were addressed during the two-day stay in the country.Both countries worked to strengthen ties and pave the way for Italy to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative. On Saturday 23rdMarch the delegations of Italy and China signed the long-awaited Memorandum of Understanding of the new economic axis between Italy and China, also known as Via della Seta, in the presence of the President of the People's Republic of China(PRC) Xi Jinping and the Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte.
The Memorandum, which the Italian Government has repeatedly defined as "non-binding", is divided into 29 agreements; 19 of an institutional nature and 10 commercial partnerships between individuals. The signed protocols thus make Italy the first G8country to enter the commercial framework promoted by Xi Jinping himself in 2013 with the aim of facilitating the movement of goods and international trade.
The Minister of Economic Development and Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio confirmed the great political and commercial success for the country, confirming that "it was a very important day for Italy". For at least ten years in Europe there is acommercial competition to attract money coming from China. Italy is behind Germany and France, but investments in thecountry remain undersized compared to the importance of its economy. It imports twice what it exports. The Government's objective is therefore to expand exports and make Italy more competitive than European partners.
"I thank the Italian President for his careful and exquisite welcome: despite the geographical distance, the two countries have always been united by a deep friendship," Xi Jinping said during the joint press conference. Then he added: "With the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella there was a fruitful meeting, with a broad consensus. The Chinese side wants a two-way trade exchange and a two-way flow of investments. It was a great success. I warmly thank the Italian Government ", Chinese President concluded, visibly satisfied.
Details on the agreements
The trade agreements signed are worth 2.5 billion euros, and according to government estimates, they could produce an overall business volume worth 20 billion euros. Seven pages and six paragraphs to define the framework within which Italy and China will be able to launch cooperation and investment projects.
Within the institutional agreements the most important topic was certainly the collaboration in the area of the "Silk Road Economic Belt" and the initiative for a 21st-century Maritime Silk Road. Other topics range from citrus fruits to start-ups, electricity trading, energy, taxation (eliminating double taxation on income taxes and preventing tax evasion), cultural heritage, health, scientific cooperation. The agreements also include the Italian Space Agency, the Langhe-Roero and Monferrato Wine Heritage Association, and the Yunnan Rice Terraces Heritage Management Committee.
Within commercial agreements great importance is for the commercial ports of Genoa and Trieste, where the infrastructuresare expected to be upgraded. Other topics in the agreement also include CassaDepositi e Prestiti, a bank of primary importance, which will support Italian companies in China. The Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has strongly and staunchly defended the initiative, which aims to "re-balance the commercial balance and intensify investment flows".
This agreement also "presents no risk to national security" and respects the EU principles of "transparency, reciprocity and sustainability", addressing to boththe United States and European partners,who see instead in theBelt and Road initiative a design of colonization from China.
President Mattarella hopes for "a confrontation on human rights" with the Asian giant. "In the light of the Italian mandate in the United Nations Human Rights Council, I would like to hope that, on the occasion of the EU-China human rights dialogue that will take place in Brussels after the one held in Beijing last July, we can continue in a constructive confrontation on such relevant issues ". An immediate response came from the Chinese President,who confirmed the "willingness to dialogue".
President Mattarella talked of an "epochal change", emphasizing that "China and Italy are two important forces in the world for safeguarding peace and promote development". China wants to work with Italy "to revive the spirit of fairness, mutual respect and justice," said Xi Jinping, adding that there is no conflict of interest between the countries. The tradition of ties between the two countries "is very ancient", and the already very strong mutual collaborationwill have a further push with the Belt and Road Initiative.
As China and Italy will be marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2020, leaders have decided to hold the 2020 cultural year of Chinese tourism in Italy and the Italian one in China, thus confirming the interest that the two countries have for each other.