(Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is due to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week endorsing Beijing’s ambitious “Belt and Road” investment programme.
Conte has faced calls from home and abroad not to sign the document, amid fears Italy might expose sensitive technologies to China or hand over critical infrastructure.
Rome has denied any such risk.
A five-page draft of the MOU reveals a wide-ranging accord full of broad undertakings, but short on specific details. Here are some of the main points of the document that has not been finalised and could yet be changed.
Italy and China share a common history, with Italy serving as the traditional landing place for the maritime Silk Route.
The two countries reaffirm their commitment to the U.N. charter to promote sustainable development and the Paris Accord on climate change. They also recognise the guiding principles of the EU Strategy to connect Europe and Asia adopted in 2018.
The two countries commit to work together on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), thereby strengthening their political relations and commercial ties, and promoting regional peace.
- A policy dialogue and a commitment to work together with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
- Transport, logistics and infrastructure: The two countries say they will work on areas of mutual interest, such as roads, railways, bridges, civil aviation, ports, energy and telecommunications. They stress the importance of open and transparent tenders.
- Removing obstacles to commerce and investment. They commit to cooperation in “third-country” markets and promise to “counter excessive macroeconomic imbalances, and to oppose unilateralism and protectionism”.
- Financial collaboration, strengthening “bilateral coordination on fiscal, financial and structural reform policies” and favouring the partnership between the respective financial institutions.
- Connectivity between people. Develop a twinning network between cities and encourage cultural, science, tourism and education exchanges.
- Environmental cooperation, promoting sustainable and ecological development.
Reporting by Crispian Balmer; editing by David Clarke