It seems that Italy does not understand the core idea of the BRI. Michele Geraci needs to better analyze BRI’s development.
At the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2019, Michele Geraci, undersecretary of state at the Italian Ministry of Economic development stated:
“How can we fall into a debt trap? It happens in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, maybe Pakistan… but it cannot happen in Italy.”
OBOReurope strongly condemns this allegation. With this statement, Geraci fails to understand that the BRI is not only about China or Italy, but it is a project for the world.
No debt trap ever happened because of the BRI. We hope that Geraci’s opinion does not reflect Italy’s official position.
First, countries are free to choose which project they want to get financed. They are not threatened by China. If some projects failed, host countries and especially their political leaders must be blamed for, not China.
Secondly, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Pakistan do not share the same financial situation. Although Sri Lanka is the most fragile’s economy among the three. Project financed through the BRI may help Sri Lanka develop the right infrastructure to sustain its economy.
Mahatir Mohamad, Malaysia’s prime minister reevaluated some railway projects that wer supposed to be financed through the BRI. These projects are now under scrutiny and may get funded in the future. There is no debt trap occurring in Malaysia.
Pakistan ranks among the 40th largest world economies, and needs more infrastructure to sustain its development. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is BRI’s flagship. China and Pakistan have tremendous projects to transform the county into a hub between China and Middle-East. Thanks to China’s projects, other countries including Saudi Arabia and EAU are investing in Pakistan. Pakistan’s integration into the BRI is no way a debt trap but an opportunity for this country to attract world investors.
We strongly advise Italy’s to adopt a more restrained language in order to become China’s main partner in the EU.
Before joining Italy’s current government, Geraci had lived in China where he had taught in several universities. Geraci and the Italian government must understand that the BRI is a multilateral project and that Italian investment and trade are not only welcome in China, but also in Sri Lanka, Malaysia or Pakistan.