Business / Economy

AIIB has swift start, solid governance, good cooperation: Dutch policy advisor

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-09-14 08:58

After a swift start, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has solid governance, good policies and good cooperation among members to take the challenge of building up more projects, a Dutch policy advisor said on Tuesday.

The policy advisor at the Dutch Ministry of Finance made the remarks at a workshop at Groningen University in the north of the Netherlands.

"What remains now the main challenge is to build up more standalone projects and do it more in the private sector. Also is important the implementation of the policies in practice," Alex Niatsetski told dozens of researchers attending the workshop on the impact, opportunities and difficulties of the Belt and Road Initiative for the China-EU relations.

Niatsetski, who is also advisor to a Dutch alternate member of the board of directors at the AIIB, emphasized that the Beijing-based lender is not a Chinese bank but an international financial institution with its own governance to serve two basic goals -- to foster sustainable economic development in the region by amongst others investing in infrastructure and to promote regional cooperation.

"It has been a really swift process since the announcement of the initiative by Chinese President Xi Jinping in October 2013," he said.

"In March 2015 the Netherlands decided to join as prospective founding member. After intensive negotiations about the policies and strategies of the bank, the final agreement has been satisfactory for all the prospective founding members. The Netherlands ratified the treaty in December. Then in January, the official inauguration of the AIIB took place in Beijing and the bank officially became operational. And half a year after that inauguration, the first four projects have been approved by the board of directors in Beijing," he explained.

In his analysis, the Netherlands has clear arguments to be a member of the AIIB.

"We really recognize the great financial gap in infrastructure sectors in the region, and that by complementing to that gap, by offering capital through the bank, we would foster economic growth and by doing that as an open economy with a big export sector, we could benefit from it ourselves," he said.

"The second argument is the direct influence on policies. As a prospective founding member, you are sitting at the table and negotiating on policies, you can really have influence. The third argument is a geopolitical one: it is important to cooperate within the region, with China but also with other members," he added.

As to the management of the bank, the Dutch expert noted that the consensus rule works really well in practice.

"The board comes together four times a year, and decides on more operational questions like policies and projects, but in practice they decide by consensus. Our experience so far is that the president of the bank, who is Chinese, really manages these dynamics really well," said the Dutch policy advisor.

Niatsetski believed that the AIIB has solid environmental and social policies comparable to that of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, saying "We made analyses about the differences and those are really minor, so it is really solid."

"Also, the procurement policy which looks at how the contracts are awarded to companies who build the infrastructure is also along the international standards. Dutch companies can also apply for projects if they have the best price-quality deal," he added.

Niatsetski considered it important to underline that for the AIIB, there is no competition with other IFIs (international financial institutions).

"The first thing that the AIIB did was making co-financing agreements with other MDBs," said the policy advisor.

"That means that the AIIB in the starting phase can trust the knowledge and guideline and capacity of other Multilateral Development Banks, and they can build their own experience from that. I think that is a very good signal," he said.

In June, AIIB approved its first four loans totalling $509 million to fund infrastructure projects in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Indonesia. These projects span the energy, urban development and transport sectors.

The AIIB, which supports infrastructure development and regional connectivity in Asia, is targeting at lending of about $1.2 billion in 2016.

The AIIB will begin reviewing membership applications in September as it calls on more countries and regions to join its infrastructure funding efforts. Canada has decided to apply for membership. If Canada joins the AIIB, it will be the first North American member of the multilateral bank.

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