Belt Road Initiative – Strengthening of Cooperation between Italy and China

On the 24th March 2019 the President of the Council Giuseppe Conte and the President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, representing the Italian government and the Chinese government respectively, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) aimed to reinforce, on different levels, the cooperation between the two Countries.

The MoU – entitled “ Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Italian Republic and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Cooperation within the Framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative” – states expressly that the two States will cooperate with the purpose of improving the political dialogue, the connectivity of infrastructures, among which, transportation, logistics, customs, as well as to promote commerce and investments, financial and economic cooperation, cultural exchanges and environment protection.

The modalities of such cooperation are identified, for instance, as information exchanges, either through government channels or by means of the development of pilot plans referring to key areas, such as research, economic exchanges and training of personnel.

The MOU also refers to a commitment made by Italy and China regarding new forms of cooperation in third party Countries, adopting projects advantageous for such States, by encouraging their development and local people’s needs.

The MoU, even if it does not qualify as an international agreement, a source of rights and obligations for the signatory States contains huge political value, beyond its high economic value. Indeed, the Belt Road Initiative project has an estimated value of more than a trillion euro, and it will be the legal basis for the conclusion of several agreements between Chinese and Italian companies, the economic volume of which equals an approximate 2 billion euro (with a potential to amount to an estimated 20 billion euro).

In conclusion, we now look forward to seeing how this cooperation between Europe and China will develop in the future.