Switzerland will become the latest European nation to sign an accord in support of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to Reuters.
China and Switzerland have enjoyed a strong partnership since the latter became the first country in continental Europe to sign a free trade deal with the economic superpower.
Swiss President Ueli Maurer is now set to visit China in April 2019 to agree a deal that will further boost the trade relationship of the two countries, despite concerns levelled towards the potential implications of the massive BRI project.
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As part of the visit, Maurer will also attend the second Belt and Road summit alongside 40 other foreign leaders.
The initiative has prompted fears from major western powers like the US, and Asian countries like India, both of whom view the BRI as China’s way to increase their influence around the world.
#Switzerland will sign an accord backing #China’s Belt and Road Initiative when President Ueli Maurer visits China this month, cementing ties with a major trading partner as other Western countries view the gargantuan project with scepticism.#MNA_English #MNA pic.twitter.com/t1oGkT89S4
— M N A (@mnaEN) April 16, 2019
Following Italy’s agreement to sign up to the BRI, becoming the first nation in the G7 to do so, fears of the project’s rapid growth have continued to rise.
Switzerland, which maintains a neutral position between China and the US, has emphasized its support of the BRI as a platform for economic development in Europe and especially Central Asia.
The Swiss finance ministry released a statement ahead of the agreement: “The aim of the memorandum is for both parties to intensify cooperation on trade, investment and project financing in third markets along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative.”