Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan and Italian Minister of Labor and Industry Luigi Di Maio shake hands after signing trade agreements at Villa Madama in Rome, Italy March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

ROME (Reuters) – Italy signed deals worth 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion) during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Rome, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Saturday, adding that the value of the contracts could rise to 20 billion.

Earlier, Di Maio inked a preliminary deal making Italy the first major wealthy Western nation to endorse China’s ambitious “Belt and Road” infrastructure project despite worries amongst key allies that this could undermine Western interests.

Di Maio told reporters the government remained committed to its Western partners but said it had to put “Italy first”.

($1 = 0.8840 euros)

Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Crispian Balmer


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