Italy on the new Silk Road
Lesson Date : 2019-04-15


  • Italy on the new Silk Road
  • Guiseppe Conte is the prime minister of Italy.
  • Xi Jinping is China's president.
  • On March 10, Mr. Xi traveled to Italy for a two-day visit.
  • During it, he and Mr. Conte signed an agreement.
  • It means that Italy is likely to join China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Italy has the world's tenth largest economy.
  • It is a member of the G7 (Group of Seven) and the European (EU).
  • The G7 are the world’s seven most advanced countries that have democratically elected governments (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, and the U.S.).
  • If it joins China’s BRI, Italy would be the first G7 and EU member to do so.
  • Italy's decision to support the BRI angered EU and U.S. leaders.
  • Mr. Xi introduced the Belt and Road Initiative five years ago.
  • It is a huge trade and infrastructure project.
  • The BRI links China to Asia, Africa and Europe.
  • It is meant to be two-way.
  • Goods and services from China can move to Asia, Africa and Europe more easily.
  • Equally, they can move in the opposite direction.
  • Some people describe the BRI as modern-day Silk Road.
  • This was an important overland trading route in the past.
  • It was used for 2,500 years.
  • The Silk Road connected the eastern Mediterranean and China.
  • Then, traders bought silk from China and transported it to Europe.
  • The Silk Road followed several routes between different cities and town.
  • The BRI includes two routes.
  • The Belt is overland and the Road is a sea route.
  • The overland route is a series of railroads and highways.
  • The sea route is a number of high-tech ports.
  • Here, modern cargo ships can load and unload their containers.
  • China provides the loans, or funds, to build the railroads, highways and ports.
  • Chinese banks lend the money to the country in which they are built.
  • The country has to repay this money over a long period.
  • In less developed nations, Chinese companies build the infrastructure.
  • So far, over 100 BRI projects have been completed.
  • In Italy, two potential projects are the rebuilding of the old ports at Trieste and Genoa.
  • Italy's economy has not grown for the past ten years.
  • Its youth unemployment is very high.
  • The country has large debts because previous governments have borrowed large amounts of money.
  • Now, it is difficult for the Italian government to pay for big infrastructure projects.
  • EU leaders do not want Italy to make its own agreement with China.
  • They say that EU officials should negotiate trade agreements for all EU member countries.
  • Most European countries and the U.S. usually work together.
  • Currently, there is a trade dispute between the U.S. and China.
  • The U.S. government is unhappy because China sells many items to the U.S.
  • Yet, far fewer American-made goods are sold to China.
  • The U.S. wants European countries to trade more with America and not China.
  • Some people argue that the BRI favors Chinese goods and construction companies.
  • They worry that Chinese influence becomes greater in countries that join the BRI.
  • This is because they would be indebted to Chinese banks for many years in the future.