Italy "enormously interested" in Belt & Road Initiative, says PM
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Wednesday that Italy is "enormously interested" in China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which envisions a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa.
The Italian leader made the remarks in an interview with Rome-based Chinese media prior to attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held in Beijing on May 14-15.
Gentiloni called the Belt and Road Initiative "perhaps the most important infrastructure modernization project underway in the world today."
"Bringing the Chinese economy closer through this gigantic infrastructural operation is enormously interesting to Italy, not only for our government but also for our universities and public and private businesses," Gentiloni said.
For Italy it's not just looking to become a trade and logistical destination for the contemporary Silk Road, but also about participating in large-scale infrastructure projects in the countries along the Silk Road.
"As a country we've been capable of building large-scale infrastructure, roads, and public works for thousands of years -- in this aspect we are somewhat similar to China," Gentiloni said.
"So we like to put these strengths together," the prime minister said.
Italy used to be the destination for traders along the ancient Silk Road, and the Mediterranean country expects to become an active partner in the contemporary version of the ancient trade route that China has proposed.
Gentiloni believes the Belt and Road Initiative could make Italy's ports into new terminals for international trade.
"We are convinced that to this day, Italy continues to be an ideal destination for the Belt and Road Initiative, especially as far as the southern link by sea," he said.
Emphasizing Italy is a country that connects Europe and Africa, Gentiloni noted that the Chinese economy is very interested in fostering relations with both Europe and Africa.
Italy is also looking to "possibilities for joint investments with China and other partners in the various countries -- I'm thinking of Pakistan, for example -- along the Belt and Road route," Gentiloni added.