Washington and Rome touch base. On Tuesday, Jose Fernandez, the United States’s Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, met with Ambassador Riccardo Guariglia, Secretary-General of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs. The two discussed several issues – including energy, food security, climate change, Africa and next year’s Italy-led G-7 – and the former took the chance to reiterate the US’ invitation to join the Blue Dot Network.
- Washington had called on Rome to enter its steering committee when US President Joe Biden met with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in July.
Think de-risking (from China). The BDN was launched in 2019 by the United States (and recently re-launched by the Biden Administration) to promote high standards in public-private infrastructure investment around the world, including in developing countries. It also doubles as an instrument to counter Chinese expansionism, especially in the sphere of infrastructure, where Beijing has been growing its influence through the Belt and Road Initiative.
- That’s why Italy’s entrance into the BDN will most likely happen in the coming months after its exit from the BRI.
It goes for critical minerals, too. In the meantime, Rome (along with Oslo and New Delhi) has joined the Minerals Security Partnership, another US-launched initiative to promote ethical mining and strengthen partnerships between “friendly” countries along the sector’s supply chains. The entrance was “welcomed” by President Biden, according to the readout of his meeting with PM Meloni.
- Italy and India are also founding partners of another BRI alternative, the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), an infrastructural and investment project unveiled at the G-20 in New Delhi geared at creating a commercial channel from India to the EU.
The expert’s take. Elaine Dezenski, Senior Director and Head of the Center on Economic and Financial Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington had told our sister website there are “clear advantages in working with other democracies. We should support greater investment in initiatives such as the Blue Dot Network, which align with democratic principles, transparency, anti-corruption and human rights.”
- “Italy will be in a position to take this cause forward when it assumes the G-7 presidency in 2024,” she added.
Image: Undersecretary Fernandez’ X profile