The Republic of Korea and Turkey have announced their decision to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the latest batch of wait-and-see countries to join as the application deadline draws close.
The move brought the number of countries and regions to apply as founding members for the China-proposed international lending institute to 37 as of Friday.
On Friday, China’ s Ministry of Finance welcomed the decision and said the ROK will become a founding member by April 11 if other members approve.
The ROK and Turkey are part of an emerging wave of countries joining the AIIB which was started by Britain, who unexpectedly filed its application on March 12.
The bank now has 27 prospective founding members with the rest waiting for two-week approval, the ministry said.
The AIIB originally had 21 founders including China, India and Singapore which signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of the bank last October in Beijing.
No western government was involved at that time.
The ice was broken on January 1, when New Zealand was officially approved as a founding member, the first developed economy to join. However, most developed economies remained uninvolved until Britain joined.
Since then France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Switzerland have decided to join.
“It is good to see so many countries all over the world are joining, Asian countries and European countries,” Hans-Paul Burkner, Chairman of the Boston Consulting Group, said on Friday during an exclusive interview with Xinhua, describing the trend as a very positive development.
But the United States and Japan, leaders of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) remained indifferent.
The Unite States has been too slow in accepting the necessity of the AIIB in the Asian world, Leo Melamed, the founder of global financial futures markets, said during the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2015 held in Boao, a coastal town in south China’s Hainan province.
“The AIIB is a very important move by Asia. I applaud that move. And it’s necessary there is a development bank like such for the Asian world, whose economic volume is at least a third of the whole planet,” said Melamed, Chairman Emeritus of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
The AIIB will be an international financial institution providing support to infrastructure projects in Asia, and is expected to be established by the end of this year.
Burkner said there is enormous need for infrastructure investments around the world and particularly in Asia with fast growing population, which is not possible for the World Bank or the ADB alone to satisfy.
“It also means more momentum in infrastructure investment, there will be cooperation and also some healthy competition with the ADB and the World Bank,” he said.
Burkner also dismissed concerns on the AIIB’ s governance and transparency.
“The more countries that participate, the more China allocates different roles and responsibilities,” he said, noting the governance structure and transparency will keep improving in the process.
Experts believe that more countries and regions will choose to participate in the establishment of the bank, and the US may be no exception.
“I think they will join because it will be foolish not to,” said Melamed.
US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will visit China as an envoy of President Barack Obama on Monday and Tuesday, just ahead of the deadline of March 31.