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AIIB narrows infrastructure financing gap

By Li Xiang | China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-17 10:49

The Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will focus on investments in projects that promote connectivity this year, said Jin Liqun, its president.

To address the infrastructure financing gap in Asia, the bank will consider projects from all of its member countries including those covered by the China-led Belt and Road Initiative as well as other regional connectivity strategies, the head of the bank told China Daily in a written interview.

Jin views the global economic outlook in 2017 with guarded optimism and said he believes that infrastructure investment will continue to be a key driver of global economic growth.

"Both the short-term cyclical recovery and the long-term trends are more supportive across the board," Jin said. "And there is a clear international consensus that increased levels of sustainable infrastructure investment can play an important role in supporting growth."

The bank financed nine projects worth a total of $1.73 billion during its first year of operation in 2016. The deals included transport, energy and urban development projects in Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Tajikistan as well as transportation projects in Oman, the first Gulf country the AIIB ever invested in.

The most recent project was a $600 million loan for the construction of a natural gas pipeline from Azerbaijan through Turkey to markets in southern Europe. The bank is co-financing the project with other institutions including the World Bank.

Jin said the partnerships with other well-established multilateral development banks such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development are important for the AIIB's credibility.

"We are the new kid on the block and regard these partnerships to be a vote of confidence in the AIIB's ability to operate at the highest standards," Jin said.

The Beijing-based multilateral development bank has 57 founding members with $100 billion in capital. Of the world's major economies, only the United States and Japan remain non-members of the bank.

When asked about the likelihood of the US joining the AIIB, Jin said that the AIIB is open and inclusive and it is willing to welcome new members.

Despite the recent tensions stirred by comments from US president-elect Donald Trump, Jin has said that the door remains open to the US joining.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Jin expressed optimism toward the relationship between the two countries and said that he was encouraged by the positive comments on AIIB from senior officials in the US government, both Democrats and Republicans.

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