World Economy

UK Bid to Join AIIB Worries US

UK Bid to Join AIIB Worries USUK Bid to Join AIIB Worries US

The US has expressed concern over Britain’s effort to become a founding member of a Chinese-backed bank that could rival the likes of the World Bank.

The UK is the first big western economy to apply for membership of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) which will fund Asian energy, transport and infrastructure projects, BBC reported.

However, the US has raised questions over the bank’s commitment to international standards on governance.

In a statement, UK Chancellor George Osborne said the UK had “actively promoted closer political and economic engagement with the Asia-Pacific region” and that joining the AIIB at the founding stage would create “an unrivalled opportunity for the UK and Asia to invest and grow together”.

The hope is that investment in the bank will give British companies an opportunity to invest in the world’s fastest growing markets.

  US Shows Concern

The US sees the Chinese effort as a ploy to dilute US control of the banking system, and has persuaded regional allies such as Australia, South Korea and Japan to stay out of the bank.

In response to the move, US National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell said: “We believe any new multilateral institution should incorporate the high standards of the World Bank and the regional development banks.”

“Based on many discussions, we have concerns about whether the AIIB will meet these high standards, particularly related to governance, and environmental and social safeguards,” he added.

  No Consultation

Some 21 nations came together last year to sign a memorandum for the bank’s establishment, including Singapore, India and Thailand.

But in November last year, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott offered lukewarm support to the AIIB and said its actions must be transparent.

US President Barack Obama, who met Abbott on the sidelines of a Beijing summit last year, agreed the bank had to be transparent, accountable and truly multilateral.

“Those are the same rules by which the World Bank or IMF (International Monetary Fund) or Asian Development Bank or any other international institution needs to abide by,” Obama said at the time.

The Financial Times (FT) newspaper reported on Thursday that US officials had complained about the British move. The report cited an unnamed senior US administration official as saying the British decision was taken after “virtually no consultation with the US”.

“We are wary about a trend toward constant accommodation of China,” the newspaper quoted the US official as saying.

However, in response to the UK announcement, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim told a news conference he supported the goals of the AIIB.

“From the perspective simply of the need for more infrastructure spending, there’s no doubt that from our perspective, we welcome the entry of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank,” he said.