MILESTONE: AIIB Holds Official Signing Ceremony

Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), an international development bank to rival the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB), held its official signing at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. The Articles of Agreement (AoA) were officially signed. This milestone event demonstrates China’s global economic influence. 57 counties including Germany, Singapore, United Kingdom, Australia and South Korea are among the founding members. China will hold a 25% to 30% stake in the bank, with India possibly holding 10% to 15% in the financial institution. This gives Beijing significant veto power over key decisions. Russia and Germany would be the next biggest shareholders of the bank. Indonesia will be the eighth biggest shareholder in the AIIB.

The AIIB will have authorized capital of US$ 50 billion, ultimately to be expanded up to US$ 100 billion. The AIIB has pledged to be less bureaucratic than the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. A 2014 World Bank study concluded the average time for a privately-managed bank project from start to completion was two years and five months. To minimize political games, the AIIB will have a nonresident board to center on technical decision making.

The United States and Japan, both opposing the AIIB, have not joined.

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Lou Jiwei, the former Chairman and CEO of the China Investment Corporation (CIC) and current Minister of Finance for China, commented to the media that the AIIB could start functioning before the end of 2015. The AIIB is led by Jin Liqun who is the interim head. He is tipped to be the bank’s first president.

Silk Road Infrastructure Fund

As China leads in the formation of the AIIB, its US$ 40 billion Silk Road infrastructure fund has opened up a new level of transparency. Jin Qi, the fund’s chief executive, at the Lujiazui Forum in Shanghai, stated the fund will use government transfers, equity sales and stock market listings as exit strategies for divesting in project and investments. This is in order to ensure financial returns from its investments. Beijing maintains the fund is a for-profit fund rather than an aid vehicle. Some of the infrastructure fund’s current investors are the CIC, the Export-Import Bank of China and China Development Bank.

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