57 nations approved as founder members of China-led AIIB
Poland and Portugal are among the latest batch of countries to get approval for membership
The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has officially approved 57 nations as prospective founding members, with Sweden, Israel, South Africa, Azerbaijan, Iceland, Portugal and Poland the latest to be included.
The AIIB is the first Asian-based international bank to be independent from the Western-dominated Bretton Woods institutions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
Countries accepted as AIIB founding members include China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Myanmar, the Philippines, Pakistan, Britain, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany and Spain.
However, long-time rival Taiwan was left off the list of founding members despite expressing a desire to join, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.
Founding members have priority over nations that sign up later because they will have the right to set the rules for the bank.
Unconfirmed reports said North Korea's application was rejected. Taiwan said it would try to join the institution as a regular member.
The United States and Japan, two of the world's biggest economies, did not apply to join.
Chinese state media said the prospective founding nations had started talks on the AIIB's draft rules, which will be finalised and signed in meetings starting next month.
The Ministry of Finance said last night that the bank's charter would be signed by the end of June and the bank's first president would be appointed on merit once the AIIB had been formally established.
The AIIB would learn from the experience of other multilateral financial institutions to minimise operating costs and maximise efficiency, the ministry said.
Since President Xi Jinping launched the bank initiative in late 2013, the administration of US President Barack Obama has voiced misgivings about the bank's transparency, governance and potential conflicts with existing institutions, particularly the Manila-based Asian Development Bank.
The AIIB is seen as a potential competitor to global financial institutions such as the US-led IMF and World Bank. But IMF chief Christine Lagarde said last month that the IMF and the World Bank would be "delighted" to cooperate with the AIIB.
Beijing has repeatedly said the AIIB would complement existing international institutions.
In October, 21 countries signed an agreement to establish the AIIB, which will be based in Beijing with a mission to finance infrastructure projects in the Asia-Pacific region.
The bank plans to rapidly increase its initial subscribed capital of US$50 billion to US$100 billion. Member states' voting rights are likely to be based on gross domestic product. The bank is expected to be set up by the end of this year.
Final list of 57 founding members of the AIIB
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- United Kingdom
Additional reporting by Kyodo