China-led Asian infrastructure bank in the making

By He Shan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 11, 2014
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The planned US$50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank dedicated to funding infrastructure projects in Asia is in the making, Chinese finance minister Lou Jiwei said Thursday at a session of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA).

The bank was first proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang during their visits to southeastern Asian countries in October 2013.

The initial capital for the bank is US$50 billion, which will be paid by members and by issuing bonds, the minister told reporters at the forum.

He added that the capital may grow if the bank evolves in the future.

Lou said the bank is different from the existing multilateral development banks, including the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, which prioritize poverty reduction.

"The planned bank will focus on building infrastructure in Asia," he said. "The bank will be more of a commercial entity than an inter-government entity."

He explained that although China has promised to purchase more shares in the bank, it won't hold the controlling stake. If other countries want to contribute more to the bank, China is willing to reduce its share.

"Preparation work is under way. We have convened two meetings so far," he said.

Under the framework for the bank, China will launch a trust designed for investment in infrastructure projects.

The bank will expand beyond the region, mainly the ASEAN countries and China, to other countries that have showed strong interest in becoming founding members of the bank. But the minister didn't name the countries.

He said a working group has been set up and is being headed by Jin Liqun, chairman of China International Capital Corporation and former vice president of the Asian Development Bank.

Commenting on the timetable of the bank establishment, Lou said, "We are working hard to work out an inter-governmental memorandum of understanding in the coming fall and are making preliminary revisions to the document before the bank is set up."

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop said the bank will complement, not replace, the existing regional development banks, and it is a creative idea that China has come up with.

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