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Out of the BRI and standing by IMEC. Rome’s road ahead

While in Mumbai for the Global Maritime India Summit, Deputy Minister Rixi said the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor project remains “very concrete” – and the Rome-New Delhi link “can be decisive”. On the contrary, China’s Belt and Road Initiative has not brought “tangible results”

Rome stands by IMEC. The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), presented on the sidelines of the September G-20 in New Delhi, is a “very concrete” project. That’s what Edoardo Rixi, Italian Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, told Repubblica on Wednesday from the Global Maritime India Summit in Mumbai.

  • While in India, the Italian official met with local authorities – including through a bilateral meeting with the Indian Minister of Ports and Shipping, Sarnabanda Sonowal.
  • He also met with local businesses and representatives of large Italian companies (including FS/Italferr, Fincantieri, Ita, Leonardo).

Bolstering the Italy-India link… The two countries have been growing closer over the past years, with the process culminating in Prime Ministers Giorgia Meloni and Narendra Modi upgrading their relation to “strategic” in March. Last week, Defence Ministers Guido Crosetto and Rajnath Singh renewed the defence cooperation agreement that had expired in 2019.

  • “The climate with India has changed, especially after the global crisis due to the war in Ukraine and, now, because of what is happening in Israel,” explained Deputy Minister Rixi, speaking of India as a country “that has great technological capacity” and indicating that its link with Italy that can be “decisive.”

… via the Indo-Med route… With regard to logistics, Indian ports are growing by 50% every year, “but they are still behind in terms of infrastructure,” continued the official, noting that Italian operators can “play a leading role” in terminal management and offer logistics chain know-how. Also, Italy “offers itself to the market as a great logistics platform,” he added.

  • Still, IMEC is “at an embryonic level” – and the crisis in Israel might hamper its development, given the potential reluctance of the Arab countries involved. But Rome is “ready to do its part,” assured Deputy Minister Rixi. its goal is to “shorten the chain” via a partnership with New Delhi.
    • Training is also part of the relationship-strengthening drive, he explained, especially via the Bocconi University-ran institute in Mumbai, which already has 700 students.

… and away from China. In contrast with IMEC, Italy’s participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (which Rome is about to drop out of) has not brought “tangible results,” explained Deputy Minister Rixi in the Repubblica interview. On the contrary, IMEC “responds to new challenges and tangible opportunities.” Over the coming months, Italy will strengthen the relationship between its port authority and those of IMEC countries, “starting with the Indian ones, to experiment with common languages,” he added.

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