China’s Asian Infrastructure Bank Considering Local Bond Sale

  • AIIB expecting more European, Latin American nations to join
  • Lender approved first $509 million batch of loans on Friday

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is looking at selling bonds in China and is preparing for new European and Latin American members, said Jin Liqun, the multilateral lender’s president.

AIIB is taking applications from more European nations, expects many Latin American countries to join soon, and is also in discussions with Hong Kong on membership, Jin told reporters at a briefing in Beijing on Saturday during its first annual meeting. A debt sale would be denominated in yuan and could be followed by offers in other nations, he said.

The development bank with 57 founding members is central to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambition to seek a bigger voice in global affairs and deeper economic integration with its neighbors. AIIB approved its first batch of loans totaling $509 million on Friday to fund projects in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Tajikistan. The bank has been in operation since January with registered capital of $100 billion.

“We have made tremendous progress in the first few months of operations,” said Jin. “More Latin American nations will join AIIB soon” and the bank may look at projects there, he said. Brazil is the only Latin American country that’s currently an AIIB member.

AIIB is looking at projects that will improve interconnectivity in Eurasia, said Jin. He acknowledged Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, saying he couldn’t rule out the possibility that the bank wouldn’t set up an office in London. But AIIB would continue to work closely with European countries including the U.K., said Jin.

High Standards

Known for his love of Shakespeare, Jin, 66, previously worked at the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank on China’s behalf, and was a former monetary policy committee member and supervisory chairman of China’s sovereign wealth fund.

AIIB has set up environmental, social and procurement policies "very similar" to the high standards of the World Bank and the ADB, and it may pull back loans to projects where its standards aren’t met, according to Danny Alexander, vice president of the bank.

The AIIB is one of three entities China is promoting, along with a joint BRICS Development Bank with Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, and a Silk Road Fund designed to revive Chinese commercial ties in south and central Asia. They would join existing bodies including the ADB, World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank in offering finance to developing nations.

President Xi aims to fund projects that will aid development in what are already some of the world’s fastest-growing areas. The vision could produce benefits that match China’s integration with the global economy when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. said last year.

— With assistance by Yinan Zhao

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