Executive Intelligence Review


Geraci, Italian ‘Task Force China’ in Beijing for Belt and Road Negotiations

Sept. 3, 2018 (EIRNS)—Italian Undersecretary to the Economic Development Ministry (Industry and Trade) Michele Geraci is in China, leading the Task Force China which he himself created last month. (See EIR Daily Alert, Aug. 23, 2018.) After three days in Shanghai, Geraci is now in Beijing where, among other things, he will participate in the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

Cooperation with China on African development, and Chinese investments in infrastructure in the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, are central to Geraci’s mission, the first of many to follow, he said in an interview with Formiche today.

On Italy as the terminus for the Silk Road, Geraci explains that,

“We are not intending to sell anything ... we must favor brown field and green field investments, that is, those investments that increase the productive capacity of the country. We won’t sell a port, but we will seek Chinese investments to, for instance, build a new dock.... We don’t want a simple exchange of equities, but the emission of new capital directly in the company, broadening its productive capacity and creating new jobs. China is very interested in the port of Trieste, but also in Genoa, Venice, Taranto. The Chinese want to understand which could be the terminus of the Silk Road. We then can decide whether or not to accept their proposal.”

Geraci ridiculed the alleged danger of the so-called “debt trap” (in English). In order to create a debt trap for Italy, “you would need $1 quadrillion in investments....

“Cooperation in Africa is a key issue for our companies. Italian national interest today is in blocking migration flows, but I believe that there is not enough awareness in Italy yet, about the demographic problem in Africa. The African population will double in the next 30 years, from 1.2 to 2.4 billion persons.”

Chinese investments in Africa

“have a return for us Italians because, first of all, it helps to stabilize countries where our companies are active. Furthermore, I believe that it is a duty for an advanced country such as ours, not so much to host those who flee from the African continent, but to help Africans not to abandon own lands. It is the only win-win solution for everybody. To succeed, we must first stabilize the economy and the political situation in the countries of origin. China has the capital for this initial input. We must favor this process, otherwise we will only help a brain drain from Africa and create further gaps for the future.”

Geraci’s mission was preceded by a delegation led by Economy (Treasury) Minister Giovanni Tria, who met with his counterpart as well officials from Chinese funds, including the Silk Road Fund. Tria’s aim was securing financial support for Italian government debt. It has been announced that the Italian central bank will start to build stocks in renminbi.