Italy's finance minister says there is no backlash from the US after signing agreement with China

  • Rome was the first major G-7 economy to sign a deal with Beijing to be part of its massive infrastructure plan — a move that has raised eyebrows in the United States and in some other European countries.
  • The Belt and Road scheme is meant to create a vast global network of land, sea and digital connections.
  • Critics say the unprecedented infrastructure plan will favor Chinese firms, boost Beijing's international influence and force developing nations to take on high debt burdens.

Italy hasn't suffered any negative reaction from U.S. authorities after having agreed to be part of China's Belt and Road initiative, the country's finance minister told CNBC Friday.

Rome was the first major G-7 economy to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Beijing to be part of its massive infrastructure plan — a move that has raised eyebrows in the United States and in some other European countries.

However, Giovanni Tria, an economist in charge of Italy's finances, said: "We have not (had) any backlash."

"We have a strategic partnership, an alliance with the United States and the other countries allied in NATO and this doesn't change," he told CNBC's Joummana Bercetche at the IMF's Spring Meetings in Washington, D.C.

The Belt and Road scheme is meant to create a vast global network of land, sea and digital connections linking China with Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Critics say the unprecedented infrastructure plan will favor Chinese firms, boost Beijing's international influence and force developing nations to take on high debt burdens.

The White House has previously said Italy's involvement in China's grand plan could hurt its international reputation, according to the Financial Times.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio told CNBC last month that his country's participation in the Belt and Road initiative is "nothing to worry about."

"We are maximizing all precautionary measures, and I want to tell the U.S., and I will tell them as well in next week's visit, that they are our allies, and that we understand their concerns," Di Maio said.

On Friday, Tria told CNBC that the agreement with China was "just a memorandum of understanding" which looks at invitations to develop potential activities, developments and frameworks of international cooperation.