In March 2019, Italy signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in support of PRC President Xi Jinping’s flagship infrastructure and connectivity project, the Belt and Road Initiative. The MoU was accompanied by a series of commercial agreements, including two between the ports of Genoa and Trieste and the state-owned enterprise China Communications Construction Company (CCCC). The European Union and the United States expressed concerns about the agreements as they feared that CCCC would eventually obtain a controlling share of the ports, not unlike that recently secured by the China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) with Greece’s Port of Piraeus. However, existing legal constraints, an open international and national debate, and the vague nature of the agreements concerned have so far kept these fears from materialising.
Paper prepared in the framework of the IAI project “When Italy embraces the BRI”.
1. The Belt and Road Initiative: A risk for Italy?
2. The leading Chinese companies operating in the Italian port sector
3. The ports of Genoa and Trieste
4. Before March 2019
4.1 The Western Ligurian Sea Port Authority
4.2 The Eastern Adriatic Sea Port Authority
5. The Memorandum of Understanding of March 2019
6. After March 2019
6.1 The Western Ligurian Sea Port Authority
6.2 The Eastern Adriatic Sea Port Authority