World hails “historic step” for AIIB, expects great opportunities

BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhua) — The signing of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) agreement on Monday marked an important milestone for the China-led multilateral institution, and the bank will substantially boost development in Asia and beyond, said officials and experts in different part of the world.

The bank would address a gap in new infrastructure across Asia, said New Zealand Finance Minister Bill English when he was attending the signing ceremony in Beijing.

“New Zealand actively participated early in the negotiations. Our aim was to push for a well-run, transparent and broad-based multilateral institution. The 50 countries who signed today is testament to the final result,” English said in a statement from his office.

“We have strong economic, trade and investment links with Asia. Raising the economic potential across the region is very much in the interests of all New Zealanders.”

Alongside counterparts from Switzerland and the Republic of Korea, English was one of three ministers invited to address the meeting of ministers of finance and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the signing ceremony.

Swiss Economic Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, who also attended the ceremony, said the AIIB is a necessary supplement to other multilateral development banks, adding that he is glad that it is the AIIB’s declared objective to be a responsible player.

According to a recent joint statement by Australia’s Treasurer Joe Hockey and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, there is an estimated infrastructure financing gap of around 8 trillion U.S. dollars in the Asian region over the current decade. “The AIIB will be part of the solution to closing this gap,” it said.

The statement also said joining the multilateral bank presents Australia with great opportunities to work with its neighbors and with its largest trading partner, China, to drive economic growth and jobs.

They noted that the AIIB will work closely with the private sector, paving the way for Australian businesses to take advantage of the growth in infrastructure in the region.

The China-initiated bank is expected to begin operation before the end of the year.

The AIIB has the potential to help existing multilateral development banks improve their governance and operation standards, said Yukon Huang, former director of the World Bank China Program and senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment Asia Program.

Noting that the biggest problem facing organizations such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank is the complex procedures in approving fund for a project, Huang advised the AIIB to streamline the procedures if necessary so as to improve efficiency.

The global financial system has come to a critical point where reforms must be carried out, and the establishment of new organizations such as the AIIB gives the world a hope, said former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

Fledgling multilateral financial institutions including the AIIB have brought fresh blood, new vision and new standards, he told Xinhua.


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