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AIIB to further promote multilateral cooperation: AIIB spokesperson

(People's Daily Online)    13:39, November 13, 2018

Three years after it was established, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) now has 87 member-states and 32 well-managed infrastructure projects, serving as an example of improving global economic governance, as well as promoting open trade and multilateralism.

“There has always been skepticism and misperception of AIIB. As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. For these few years, we’ve been setting up the best bank and highest quality projects as we can, it comes down to what we do, not what we say,” Laurel Ostfield, Head of Communications and Development at AIIB, told People’s Daily Online.

Since its formation in 2015, AIIB has expanded rapidly from the original 57 founding member states to the current 87, with many of them coming from countries outside of Asia. The bank has also received the highest credit ratings from the world’s three biggest rating agencies, Moody’s, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s, with its investment surpassing 4.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2017.

AIIB’s achievements have impressed other non-member nations, including the institution’s former die-hard objectors, the U.S. and Japan, with James Woolsey, top adviser of Donald Trump noting that U.S. opposition to AIIB is a “strategic mistake,” while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that Japan is open to joining AIIB in the future.

“Geography doesn’t play an important role in AIIB’s cooperation with other non-member states. We practice universal recruitment, inviting specialists from Japan and the U.S. to work with us; the same goes for our business, as the largest number of companies that work with us are from the U.S,” noted Ostfield, adding that AIIB’s door is always open to countries like the U.S. and Japan.

“Multilateralism is a key rule for our bank. We would like to cooperate with other nations to tackle economic problems, as well as upgrading our investment strategies, so that we can further promote the sustainable economic development in and outside of Asia,” said Ostfield.

New investment strategies to tackle global issues

Though originally founded as a bank that focuses on the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, AIIB is now seeking new opportunities to carry out projects outside of Asia, as well as expanding its investment into new areas.

In 2017, the bank approved its first sovereign loan outside of Asia, in an effort to help the Egyptian government build solar power stations. As of press time, two projects in Africa have been approved by AIIB, while more non-Asian projects may follow in the future.

“According to AIIB’s regulations, 15 percent of our lending can be given to non-regional members. It’s possible that in the future we may run more projects outside of Asia, though there must be substantial and positive impact on Asia’s economy,” said Ostfield.

In addition to exploring the possibilities of investment outside of Asia, AIIB has also shifted its focus on to other sectors. According to Ostfield, the bank is currently studying the feasibility of establishing “other product sectors.”

To date, AIIB has rolled out several new investment strategies, including the transport sector strategy, which aims to finance a sustainable and integrated transport system, while its city strategy can help cities in Asia to be economically and socially sustainable.

“Our priority is still infrastructure, but as for long-term development, we would like to expand into other sectors, whether it be mining, agriculture or ICT, we are still debating internally, but I assume we will have a specific plan rolling out in 2019,” added Ostfield.

The bank will also research how to attract more private investment, said Ostfield, as currently, equity investment only accounts for 20 percent of AIIB’s total investment, which is not enough to satisfy Asia's strong infrastructure demand.

“We need to work closely with the private sectors, as well as developing products, making our bank more attractive. We can offer a guarantee to private sectors, giving them stable revenue and longer tenure,” she added. 

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(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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