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Italy’s Withdrawal from Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • Italy, the only G7 nation to join BRI in 2019, has withdrawn from the initiative.
  • Key reasons for withdrawal include a widening trade deficit (19 billion euros to 32.4 billion euros) and a significant decrease in FDI from China ($650 million in 2019 to $33 million in 2021).
  • Further, growing skepticism in European countries towards China’s intentions, especially with Beijing’s alignments with Moscow.
  • Similar exits by Sierra Leone in 2018 and the Philippines in 2023 indicate a trend of reconsideration.

 

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

  • Launched in 2013 as One Belt One Road, it’s a China-led infrastructure project aiming to connect Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa, and Europe through land and sea routes.
  • Two primary components: Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road.
  • Aims at deepening regional integration, promoting trade, and stimulating economic growth.
  • Concerns includes unsustainable debts by China to partner countries leading to a debt trap, making them vulnerable to China’s influence.
  • Implementation problems include corruption scandals, labour violations, environmental hazards, etc.

 

India’s Concerns

·       BRI passing through Gilgit Baltistan region violates India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

·       Undermines India’s influence over smaller South Asian countries and Indian Ocean littoral states.

 

Initiatives to Counter BRI

  • Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII): A counter-initiative to address infrastructure needs with transparent and sustainable practices.
  • India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC): A regional economic corridor to enhance connectivity and trade.
  • International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC): A multi-modal network connecting India, Iran, and Russia, aiming to provide an alternative route.

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