Home » Stalled de-risking? Rome talks business with Beijing ahead of G-7 meeting

Stalled de-risking? Rome talks business with Beijing ahead of G-7 meeting

The Italy-China Business Forum will be held a few days before the Seven’s foreign ministers meet in Capri. It will revolve around four strategic themes even as Western nations press forward on de-risking. As Ghiretti (CSIS) explains, Rome risks leaving a gap in the defence of its national interests

Italy and China to talk business… On Thursday, Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani announced that the new Italy-China Business Forum is to be held on April 11-12 in Verona. The event will take place in the context of the strategic partnership which Rome and Beijing fell back on after Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni took Italy out of China’s Belt and Road Initiative format.

  • FM Tajani himself will open the event alongside Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao. Participating companies will then discuss possible bilateral economic cooperation in strategic sectors – namely agrotech, bio-medicals, e-commerce and investment.

… right before a key G-7 meeting. The event is happening at a time when Beijing is attempting to woo back investors fleeing from economic and nationalistic political headwinds. The Italy-China Business Forum is slated to take place just a week before the G-7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Capri. Economic security issues are expected to feature prominently in the wake of the Seven’s growing push towards de-risking – in some ways, a reaction to China’s own longstanding push towards economic autarky.

The nature of cooperation. The first day of the Forum entails an event celebrating Marco Polo and bilateral relations at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, as well as the meeting of the Italy-China Joint Economic Commission, as FM Tajani announced during a press conference on Thursday. He emphasised Rome’s commitment to strengthening the promotion of Italian products in China by overcoming trade barriers and attracting “qualified” investment – without endangering “the need to protect national strategic assets.”

The experts’s take. Over the past months, the government has pushed forward on de-risking from China on several occasions in addition to dropping out of the BRI. But as economic security expert Francesca Ghiretti (Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies) told our sister website, these moves suggest that the executive might be trying to revert to the “catch-all […] traditional Italian approach” vis a vis China.

  • She noted that such an approach – “trying to be friends and gain advantages from all sides in the mistaken belief that it’s strategic” – denotes a “lack of a strategy” regarding the defence of Italian interests.
  • It also clashes with Western and G-7 level discussions on de-risking and the urgency of recalibrating strategic dependencies, she added.

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