The government of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has officially notified China about Italy's withdrawal from the Belt and Road Initiative. This move confirms the months-long speculations that Rome was planning to cease its involvement in Beijing's global infrastructure program, in which Chinese banks finance projects from highways, ports, railways, power plants, and telecommunications infrastructure.
Bloomberg quoted Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who said BRI "has not produced the desired effects" and is no longer "a priority."
Tajani spoke at an event in Rome earlier today hosted by newswire Adnkronos. He said countries ex-BRI "have better results" in terms of economic growth.
Data from Bloomberg shows Italy's trade deficit with China exploded following the BRI deal, making the European country even more dependent on supplies from China.
Italy was the first Group of Seven (G7) countries to join the BRI in 2019. With its five-year memorandum of understanding up for renewal, Italy has chosen to withdraw from the deal.
Since Meloni took office last year, she has made it very clear that she is withdrawing from the BRI. She said joining was a "big mistake."
Recently, Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto described Italy's decision to join the BRI as an "improvised and atrocious act."
A Reuters source said Beijing was handed the termination letter "in recent days."
"We have every intention of maintaining excellent relations with China even if we are no longer part of the Belt and Road Initiative," a second government source said.
"Other G7 nations have closer relations with China than we do, despite the fact they were never in (the BRI)," the source added.
This comes as Europe has been caught in the crossfire of worsening relations between Washington and Beijing.
Meanwhile, China's ambassador to Italy, Jia Guide, warned there would be "negative consequences" for the BRI exit.
Italy's withdrawal is another blow to Beijing as BRI countries grapple with debt distress