Italian and Chinese relationships strengthened by the Memorandum of Understanding and by the other agreements signed in Italy in March 2019

Italian and Chinese Governments have signed on 23 March 2019 a Memorandum of Understanding ("MoU") aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation in the context of Belt and Road Initiative ("BRI"), a massive plan seeking to create a modern-day Silk Road to better connect China to Europe and Africa.

Italy has become the first member of the G7 to join BRI.

According to the MoU, the principles guiding the bilateral cooperation between Italy and China are:

  • working for common development and prosperity;
  • developing cooperation projects;
  • exploring possible synergies.

The grounds of the cooperation will concern the following sectors:

  • connectivity, also via regulatory and technical standards;
  • transports, logistics and infrastructure, with the aim of creating synergies between BRI and the Italian transport and infrastructure systems;
  • commerce and industry, with the aim of increasing investments in both directions;  
  • finance, with the aim of creating a favourable financial environment;
  • people-to-people connectivity, developing cooperation on the following matters: instruction, culture, science, innovation, health, tourism and social security;
  • environment, following a sustainable approach in the business development.

The modalities of the cooperation will include also, among others:

  • reciprocal visits by high-level representatives;
  • exchange of information in different sectors and via various channels;
  • pilot programs in key sectors;
  • economic cooperation;
  • joint research;
  • capacity building;
  • exchanges of human resources;
  • instruction.

The development of the cooperation will be followed by the Italian-Chinese Governmental Committee.

In addition to the MoU, the representatives of Italy and China have signed other 29 agreements (10 commercial and 19 institutional), including also the following:

  • promotion of the cooperation between innovative and technological start-ups;
  • cooperation in the sector of electronic commerce;
  • elimination of double taxation as regards income taxes (especially in relation to coupons, interests, royalties and capital gains);
  • cooperation on science, technology and innovation;
  • strategic partnerships between Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and Bank of China;
  • strategic partnership between ENI and Bank of China;
  • memorandum of understanding between Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, SNAM and Silk Road Fund;
  • memorandum of understanding between Intesa Sanpaolo and the City of Qingdao;
  • agreements between China Communications Construction Company and the Ports of Genova and Trieste.

According to the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, the agreements between Italy and China have a value of 2,5 billion Euro and a potential value of 20 billion Euro.

The agreements reached by the two Countries will be very beneficial especially for business operators with an international attitude and will create new opportunities also in the following legal practices: mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, commercial agreements, project finance, intellectual property and information technology.

KWM Italy

For any query or for additional information please contact:

– Gonzalo Olivera, Partner, regulated sector expert, Madrid

19 August 2021

Written by Dale Rayner, Richard Mazzochi, David Lam and Andrew Fei

27 July 2021

Keepwell deeds, also known as letters of comfort, are a credit protection tool commonly used by Chinese companies issuing debt offshore. These deeds are used in offshore finance transactions, particularly those that use bonds relating to a Chinese transaction. It is estimated that Keepwell deeds are used in around 16%, or US$96 billion, of outstanding Chinese offshore bonds.[1]

23 February 2021