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EU main economies announce plans to join China-led development bank

EU main economies announce plans to join China-led development bank

BRUSSELS: The 50 billion dollars AIIB has been feted by Beijing as a way of financing regional development, but it is seen as a potential rival to US-based institutions such as the World Bank.

Washington, Tokyo and Seoul have declined to become founding members — but within a week, Europe’s four biggest economies have signaled plans to join. Britain announced its ambitions to be the first Western country to join the bank, in a move to bolster relations with China.

Responding to reports of European interest in the bank, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: “We welcome countries to join the AIIB as prospective founding members.”

“The AIIB is an open and inclusive multilateral investment institution,” the spokesman said, adding that “participation by countries outside the region will intensify the extensive representativeness of the AIIB.”

China and 20 other countries signed a memorandum of understanding to establish the Beijing-headquartered bank in October.

At a joint press conference with Chinese Vice-Premier Ma Kai on Tuesday in Berlin, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said his country along with Italy and France “want to bring our long experience… to help the bank build a solid reputation”.

“We want to make a contribution to the positive development of the Asian economy, in which German companies are actively taking part,” he said.