PH weighs founding member role in AIIB

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To join or not to join?

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The Philippines is carefully weighing a decision to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founding member, seeking assurance the China initiative will not be used as a political tool to compete with the US-dominated World Bank and Asian Development Bank for influence over the region, a government official said.

The country continues to attend meetings prior to the establishment of the bank, looking into whether inclusiveness is a vital feature of the multilateral lender’s policy, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told reporters on the sidelines of the Financial Times-First Metro Investment Summit held in Makati City on Wednesday.

“We are attending the meetings, but we are still in a stage where we don’t have to commit,” Purisima said, noting that the deadline for the AIIB membership is next month.

Founding members are scheduled to discuss operational policies for the establishment of the institution in a three-day meeting in Singapore this week, Reuters news agency said in a report on Tuesday.

Quoting a Singapore Ministry of Finance statement, the report said the gathering, called the 5th chief negotiators’ meeting, will also discuss the draft articles of agreement for the AIIB in Singapore from Wednesday to Friday.

Purisima said earlier inclusiveness was one of the features that the Philippines wanted to be assured of before deciding to join the multilateral group.

The finance secretary said on Wednesday he sees such potential in AIIB. He noted that like other multilateral institutions, the AIIB will have boards of governors and directors, and that no single nationality will have more than one seat on the directors’ board.

“There’s also a provision of splitting the 12 members into nine regional and three non-regional groups. That helps out the smaller countries,” he said.

The AIIB is an international financial institution proposed by the government of China. The purpose of the multilateral development bank is to provide financing for infrastructure projects in Asia, which according to ADB needs about $8 trillion in infrastructure investment over the next 10 years.

The Reuters report said 57 countries have so far joined the bank as founding members, but without the United States, Japan and Canada.

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