Discussing Global Changes
Flags of the world

Editor's note: OneEurope author Andrea Bonetti talks to Prof. Giulio Sapelli about future trends in global finance, international relations and geopolitics.

In a recent interview you said that London wants to become the hub of global finance with or without the backing of Washington. How could this happen in your opinion?

It’s in the history of the City of London to be one of the most important hub worldwide. Turning to today, London can increase its importance by strengthening its international ties, which are already very strong, but also by choosing a major partner such as China who, despite being in deep crisis from an economic structural point of view, is in great ascent in terms of financial activism.

The British, against the will of Washington, have not only facilitated the creation of this new international fund that the Chinese have proposed and that is a bit against the IMF, but then again against all of Washington's undiplomatic directions advising countries not to join this fund, they have supported that this body have its head office in London.

This is a very clear signal, as I call it, breaking the Financial West, that cannot lead to anything good, but so the British have taken, especially the Conservative government, a strategy of solitary action.

As for the Brexit, there are strong pressures that suggest this might happen. In my opinion the British have calculated that they do not have substantial benefits from remaining in the EU; in other words the bonds are higher than the freedom that they would have  outside the EU, especially as the country already has a good level of governance and therefore has no need of European rules.

The strategic alliance with China means that they aim, despite the difficulties of the Chinese giant, to a role independent from Washington.

Recently, in another interview, you said that, in economic terms, the relations with Germany and France have a particular importance for Italy, just as the relations with the United Kingdom and the United States are fundamental in the geopolitical and financial arenas. Could you explain in more detail how this foreign weight is felt in Italy? 

Since the European market was created, our key partners from the point of view of the access of our products are France and Germany. Of course, the emergence of the BRICS has meant that Italy also works with the alliance, including China, Latin America and, before the sanctions, even with the Russian market. From a financial point of view the numbers speak for themselves, our dependence on the New York and London stock exchanges is very strong and it is higher than that of Frankfurt and Paris.

 Considering its strategic location in the Mediterranean, Italy could carve out for itself an important role in foreign affairs. How to increase the Italian influence in the Mediterranean Sea? With or without Washington? Do you consider the adhesion of Italy to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) the right decision, bearing in mind the growing importance of China in the Mediterranean? 

In order to increase the Italian influence in the Mediterranean Sea it is always best to first inform and get consent from Washington. After the Suez crisis, there was a change of hegemony, from British to North American and this is still the framework - at least in the West. Do not forget that Italy is a key territory for NATO bases and North America.

As regards Italy joining the AIIB, I think it is necessary to talk with the Chinese and cooperate with them, but I must say that it is very important to always have a preferential relationship with the United States, although I understand that in recent years US foreign policy, after they abandoned the Kissingerian policy of political realism and embraced that of humanitarian intervention, has been far from unproblematic. Ultimately, I think Italy has done well to join the AIIB but it has to be careful not to break what is the major point of our foreign policy, namely the alliance with the US.