Agreement on AOA milestone for establishing of AIIB

2015-05-23 08:41Xinhua Editor: Mo Hong'e

The 5th Chief Negotiators' Meeting on establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank ( AIIB) concluded on Friday after three-day discussion with agreement on the Articles of Agreement (AOA) and decision of signing AOA at the end of June in Beijing.

Though representatives of founding members didn't reveal much details such as equity allocation, approval process and whether China has veto power after the close-door meeting, Shi Yaobin, Vice Minister of Chinese Ministry of Finance and Permanent Chair of the Chief Negotiators' Meeting, told Xinhua that the planned authorized capital of AIIB will be allocated upon data of GDP for Asian countries. "The planned authorized capital of AIIB is 100 billion dollars, which will be allocated upon data of GDP for Asian countries. As for countries outside the region, GDP is also an important criterion for allocation." said Shi in an interview with Xinhua after the meeting.

This coincided with what media has reported earlier. It is reported that AIIB will refer to the practice of International Monetary Fund (IMF), that is, allocation is based on GDP and capital.

Research done by Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP) showed that China (30.85 percent) will be the largest shareholder of AIIB, followed by India (10.4 percent), Indonesia (3.99 percent), Germany (3.96 percent) and South Korea ( 3.93 percent) if Asian countries account for 75 percent of the shares and allocation is based on rules that GDP accounts for 60 percent while purchasing power parity (PPP) weighs about 40 percent.

Chen Kang, professor of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, who also worked at the World Bank's Socialist Economies Reform Unit, said based on what has been revealed, the allocation criteria of AIIB sound reasonable.

"AIIB would have lost its Asian characteristic if allocation was strictly followed the only standard of GDP. Firstly differentiate Asian countries and countries outside the region, then allocates on the basis of GDP. This practice sounds more reasonable, as countries out the region are developed countries in Europe," said Chen Kang.

Although not much details are revealed, experts generally believed the agreement on the Articles of Agreement is of great significance. Chen Gang, Research Fellow at the East Asian Institute (EAI), National University of Singapore, noted that the agreement of AOA is the milestone for the establishing of AIIB.

"Any organization, especially newly created one, should establish certain rules to safeguard its operation." said Chen Kang.

"Founding members of AIIB have made some compromise and finally reached the agreement this time," said Henry Gao, Associate Professor of Law with Singapore Management University. Gao noted that the pass of AOA means major power has made an agreement, which also indicated that the establishment of AIIB has entered crucial phase.

AOA determines the efficiency of AIIB in the future, that's why the agreement is important. Chen Kang thought the most important part in AOA is the establishment of decision-making system, equity allocation and loan approval system.

Chen Gang, researcher of EAI, agreed with what Professor Chen Kang mentioned. He said the three parts will determine the voice and decision of AIIB's founding members. Chen Gang said that procedures of discussion, decision-making and operation will function as institutional protection for AIIB.

The procedures of multilateral organizations, such as World Bank, have been complicated and to some extent, making them inefficient. Some standards are harsh and even attached with political conditions, that's why China has come up new multilateral financial institution to satisfy the need of financing. In this context, whether AIIB can be a lean and efficient organization rather than a bloated juggernaut has become the concern of observers.

To build a "lean, clean and green" AIIB, Jin Liqun, secretary general of the interim multilateral secretariat of the China- proposed institution had said that China will borrow good experiences from existing multi-lateral financial institutions such as World Bank and Asian Development Bank(ADB), but in the meantime, seek improvements and innovation on the management of the new bank.

Chen Kang said that it is easy for multinational organizations such as AIIB to encounter problems such as bureaucracy, but AIIB has already showed its effort to tackle such difficulties. For example, under proposals to be discussed this week, some advice that the board of directors representing member countries would not be necessary to sit at the lender's headquarters. And that, in Chen Kang's perspective, is a move to minimize bureaucracy.

Another important thing to bear in mind is to simplify approval process, said Chen Gang. "The provisions are set up to accelerate the speed of loans approval process, which should be measured by the urgency and the size of the loans needed, rather than become the obstacles," he said.

Chen Gang said that too many provisos have resulted in low efficiency in World Bank and ADB, even if these provisos were meant to fight against corruption.

"It is important to make sure that the operation of its projects are transparent and environmentally-friendly, as what the United States and Japan have pointed out, yet the priority is to meet the huge investment needs in the infrastructure construction in Asia, and raise efficiency."

However, Henry Gao, who is also a member of the advisory board at WTO Chairs Program, said that efficiency won't be a major problem in the running of AIIB. "Bureaucracy is a result of a long and old working pattern, new organizations like AIIB won't encounter such problem during the first decade of its operation," Gao said. "Some policies were set up with a good starting point, yet they became old-fashioned when things have already changed, and AIIB can make some innovation in the evaluation of loan approval conditions, and make some adjustments at regular intervals."

Another issue under spotlight is currency. Previous media reports said that Beijing may call for the AIIB and the Silk Road Fund to use on a basket of currencies, rather than use the U.S. dollar or RMB as a currency of settlement. Even though no decision has been given out at this meeting, experts agree that a basket of currencies is quite feasible.

"The regional RMB settlements have already taken shape, and using a basket of currencies will also enable the role of Asian currency in international settlement," Chen Kang said.

Even though AIIB is still at its initial stage, it has already brought substantial benefits to countries in the region as existing organizations have stepped up investment in local infrastructure investment.

The World Bank Group said earlier that it has decided to offer Indonesia up to 12 billion dollars in new financing to 2019 to support its infrastructure construction, while ADB formally announced recently that it will combine the lending operations of its Asian Development Fund (ADF) with its ordinary capital resources (OCR) balance sheet, in order to boost its lending capacity for Asia's poor members.

Despite many still describe AIIB as the rival of existing multi- lateral institutions, they have in fact already kicked off their cooperation. The ADB, IMF and World Bank all expressed support for AIIB, and experts say even if they might have competition on specific projects, these are "benign competitions".

"Competition will lead to better systems and more effective approval process," Chen Kang said. His words were echoed by Gao, who said these organizations can also cooperate on major projects.

"Some countries may have concern over a single institution, it then can choose to work with two or three institutions, there's a wide area for them to collaborate."


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