If it signs the agreement with Beijing, Italy would be the

  first member of the G7 group of advanced economies to officially back the initiative, with the US, Japan and the UK all reluctant to come on board.

  Michele Geraci, an official in Italy’s economic development ministry, told the Financial Times the deal would hopefully be d

one in time for Xi’s visit to the country in March. Italian media also reported on the plan.

  ”We want to make sure that ‘Made in Italy’ products can have more success in terms

of export volume to China, which is the fastest-growing market in the world,” Geraci said.

  The possible announcement comes amid a growing international backlash against Beijing’s global ambitions, incl

uding bans on Chinese technology giant Huawei and a heated trade war with the United States.

  The Chinese leader is expected to visit Italy at the end of this month before heading to France and ultimately the US, w

here he will meet with President Donald Trump as the two countries try to hash out an agreement on tariffs.