Britain intends to become prospective founding member of AIIB: finance ministry

Updated: 2015-03-13 13:29


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LONDON - Britain intends to join the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founding member, the country's finance ministry said Thursday.

In doing so, Britain is the first major Western country to apply to become a member of the bank, which will be formally established by the end of 2015.

A fully operational AIIB will support "access to finance" for infrastructure projects across Asia, using a variety of support measures -- including loans, equity investments, and guarantees -- to boost investment across a range of sectors like transportation, energy, telecommunication, agriculture and urban development, the Treasury said in a statement.

The support can complement the work already done in the region by existing multilateral development banks such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, said the statement.

"This government has actively promoted closer political and economic engagement with the Asia-Pacific region, and forging links between the UK and Asian economies to give our companies the best opportunity to work and invest in the world's fastest growing markets is a key part of our long term economic plan," said George Osborne, chancellor of the Exchequer of Britain.

"Joining the AIIB at the founding stage will create an unrivalled opportunity for the UK and Asia to invest and grow together," he added.

According to a headline article on the Financial Times' website, the British media said Osborne also expects other Western countries to become involved in the founding of the AIIB.

The Treasury noted that Britain will join discussions later this month with other founding members to agree on the bank's prospective Articles of Agreement, setting out the governance and accountability arrangements that underpin the AIIB's operating practices.

Also on Thursday, the Chinese Ministry of Finance said China welcomed Britain's decision, adding that it expects the European country to formally become a prospective founding member by the end of March if all goes well.

The AIIB will be an international financial institution that will provide support to infrastructure projects in Asia.

Twenty-one countries including China, India and Singapore signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last October in Beijing to build the bank. Other countries, including Indonesia and New Zealand, soon followed.

Earlier this month, China's Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said 27 countries had applied to jointly build the bank as founding members.