Italy tells China it plans to exit Belt and Road initiative, says Bloomberg

US media outlet Bloomberg reports that Italy has told China that it will leave the Belt and Road Initiative, citing sources close to the matter.

Bloomberg says Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni unofficially conveyed the decision on Saturday when she met her Chinese counterpart Li Qiang on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in India.

A Chinese foreign ministry statement on the meeting includes a quote from Li saying China will continue to expand market access to create more opportunities for quality Italian products to enter the Chinese market.

The statement makes no mention of Italy's intention to depart from the initiative.

In 2019, Italy became the only Group of Seven nation to sign a memorandum with China on the Belt and Road Initiative.

But media outlets have reported that Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani on September 2 said membership in the initiative did not benefit Italy in a significant way.

Speculation had since been growing that Italy could leave the scheme.

The news comes as China plans to host an international forum in Beijing in October to mark the achievements of the initiative.

Bloomberg reports that Italy has expressed concerns of possible trade retaliation from China.