Leveraging this occasion, Italian companies signed agreements with Chine firms, amounting a total of 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion). According to Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, these agreements have a further potential of 20 billion euros.
However, the US are worried with this development, as it could enhance China's influence, with the country also believing that it could advance technologies capable of spying on Western interests.
In addition, the Italy-China agreement has also alarmed some European Union allies, Reuters reports, who worry that China could have further access to sensitive technologies and critical transport hubs. In fact, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that relations with China should not be dependent mainly on trade.
Addressing such concerns, the Deputy Prime Minister tried to play them down, Mr. Di Maio said that Italy is still committed to its promises wits its Western allies, but explained that the government had to put Italy first on commercial matters.
Nonetheless, even Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini did not support this agreement, as he believes that this could be an attempt from China to dominate in Italian markets. Namely, Mr. Salvini declined to meet the Chinese President during a state dinner.
During 2018, Italy reported a trade deficit with China of 17.6 billion euros, with Mr. Di Maio mentioning that the target is to eliminate the deficit as soon as possible.