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AIIB operating to the highest intl standards

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-11-25 10:42

SHENZHEN - The mission of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to support infrastructure investment is good for the world's economy, and the institution is operating "to the highest international standards," according to Sir Danny Alexander, the bank's vice president and corporate secretary.

Alexander was a cabinet minister in the British Treasury from 2010 to 2015. He was appointed as vice president and corporate secretary of the AIIB in February 2016.

In an interview with Xinhua, Alexander said he was one of the senior ministers in the British government at the time "who advocated strongly that the UK should join the AIIB."

In March 2015, Britain became the first major western country to announce its intention to join the new multilateral development bank, which started operations in January 2016 and has grown to 80 approved members from around the world.

"The AIIB seems to us to be a very good initiative to create a new framework for countries to work together and to further that common interest in infrastructure investment," he told Xinhua in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

He noted that there had been more than 20 countries choosing to join the AIIB since the founding of the bank.

The fact shows that "they [members] can see that the bank is developing in the right way and to the highest international standards," said the former British politician.

Great responsibility 

In the interview, Alexander said that it is "a great responsibility" to work for the AIIB.

"It is very rare for new multilateral development banks to be set up. Ours is the first in the 21st century, and it is the first ever to be headquartered in China, so it is a great responsibility to do that well and to get it right," he explained.

As vice president, he is responsible for the bank's relations with its members, the board of governors, the board of directors and other aspects of governance, including the admission of new members.

"I have a role as part of the senior management team in the bank, with a particular responsibility for the governors of the bank, making sure the board of directors, the board of governors and so on operate in the right way," he said.

"We have a very good team ably led by President Jin Liqun. And I think together we are helping to ensure that the AIIB is built in a way that fulfills the vision that our institution is lean, clean and green," he said.

Highest standards

In the interview, Alexander repeatedly stressed that the AIIB is committed to "operating to the highest international standards."

The bank is focused on its work "to ensure high standards in everything that we do: high standards of governance, high standards of environmental and social management and high standards of project development," the AIIB vice president said.

By focusing on investing in "good projects" that have strong safeguards on environmental and community impact, the AIIB "can help to ensure through those investments that we spread the high standards and that we share better practice," he noted. "That helps to ensure that there is a good business environment, so I think that is the main way in which the AIIB can make that contribution."

Priorities

In January, the AIIB unveiled its three priorities for the year ahead, namely sustainable infrastructure, cross-country connectivity and the mobilization of private capital, according to a statement on its website.

Alexander said sustainable infrastructure helped to support the transition for Asian countries to be "more environmentally sustainable," which requires renewable energy and sustainable cities.

On connectivity, the vice president said it meant "improving the connectivity between Asian countries, and through Asia, and other parts of the world."

"That means transport projects, like roads, railways, airports and ports, but also things like electricity transmission and energy pipelines," he said.

"The scale of the need for infrastructure in Asia is so huge that all of the national government resources and all of the international financial resources are too small," he said, highlighting the need to mobilize private capital.

"We must mobilize more private capital, so we also have a role to play in helping to make infrastructure more attractive for private sector investors as well as institutions like ours," he urged.

Shared aim

In the interview, Alexander also shared his views on the links between the AIIB and the Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by China in 2013 with the aim of building a trade, investment and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes.

He said that though the AIIB and the initiative are two separate initiatives, they also overlap at certain intersections and share a similar goal.

"There is overlap and there is mutual interest and mutual benefit in terms of their shared aim to promote productivity within the Asian region," he told Xinhua.

The AIIB, together with five other major multilateral development banks, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Ministry of Finance at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in May this year.

"That created a framework for all of the major international financial institutions to work with the Belt and Road Initiative," Alexander said.

He stressed, however, the AIIB would invest in good projects, "according to its own strategy" and would apply the same high standards and tests to its investment projects.

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