AIIB update, mid-2016

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AIIB, officially established in December last year, currently has 57 members and is starting out with $100 billion in capital. It was seen as a propaganda victory for China when U.S. allies such as the U.K. and Germany joined. At its first annual meeting in June, AIIB said potential members should signal their interest in joining the bank before a Sept. 30 deadline. In June, AIIB said 24 countries had expressed interest in joining the bank. ...
... Mr. Jin said managing the bank well, in line with international standards, could burnish China’s image as a responsible member of the international community. “If Chinese leaders have any proposals that are beneficial to Asia and to the world, it will get more positive reactions from more countries,” he said after the press conference.

AIIB has also developed an Environmental and Social Framework that outlines a vision to support green growth and protect vulnerable people and ecosystems from harm associated with investments. What lies ahead is to acquire expertise and engage with the diverse set of civic, social and political stakeholders in the countries that will host AIIB projects. An important aspect in this body of work is information disclosure to the public, which helps the bank to identify and mitigate risks before they become material.

If the above is done well, AIIB has a chance to become a model development bank of the 21st century. If things go wrong, the AIIB’s green reputation could be severely damaged when it is just taking off.

Jin said the vision of AIIB is to create an institution that is efficient, free from corruption and environmentally responsible. "As we call it, the bank should be lean, clean and green."

He explained that essentially AIIB is a multilateral development bank (MDB).

"AIIB is not the clone or copy of any existing institutions. It should be a new one. But still it is not something very different from MDBs. We should keep its identity as MDB, but we should be different. So AIIB is going to do different things, and should be doing things differently," Jin said.

Some useful history

Japan’s Asian Monetary Fund Proposal

The bank's successful establishment is likely to bolster Beijing's confidence that it can play a leading role in supranational financial institutions, despite the economic headwinds it is facing at home.

"At the start, China wasn't very confident," one of the sources said in reference to Beijing's AIIB plans. ...

... Internal government debates about the AIIB lasted for at least six months from spring 2013 and included the Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Commerce and the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), a state think-tank, sources said.

Government skeptics questioned China's ability to run a multilateral bank given its inexperience and, fearing the AIIB might incur losses, suggested China set up its own state investment fund to finance foreign infrastructure deals, sources said.

Others challenged the need for China to start a new bank given it was already a member of the BRICS development bank with Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, and had held talks with Russia about jointly establishing another lender.

But the suggestion to start an investment fund was rejected on the basis that a unilateral effort by China could cause other governments to suspect its motives, one of the sources said.

via Hongying Wang: The New Multilateral Development Banks: Promises and Potential Problems

  • Steven Hess: Multilaterals Playing Growing Role in Funding Global Development
  • Hongying Wang: From “Taoguang Yanghui” to “Yousuo Zuowei”: China’s Engagement in Financial Minilateralism: "This paper argues that the Chinese government seeks to use financial minilateralism to stimulate reform of global financial institutions, provide financial public goods for its regional neighbours and fellow developing countries, as well as directly promote China’s economic and political interests. China’s financial minilateralism is not meant to overthrow the existing multilateral institutions, but this could change depending on the interaction between how the world responds to China’s new activism and the domestic political dynamics in China. Western countries should understand and accommodate China’s aspirations and encourage China to keep its minilateralism open."

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