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China welcomes Georgia to Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

31 Mar 2015 - 19:44:00

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Agenda.ge,31 Mar 2015 - 19:44, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia and 14 other countries are lining up to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The AIIB is expected to be established by the end of this year and aims to provide loans for developing countries in Asia for infrastructure projects.

Countries have until the end of today, March 31, to apply for AIIB founding membership. Britain and Switzerland had already been formally accepted as founding members, while the final number of founding members will be confirmed on April 15, based on approval by the applicants themselves.

"Georgia is ready to join AIIB as a founder country,” said Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Finance David Lejava.

"To be a founder country means to work on the founding documents together with the other countries, where Georgia’s interests will be taken into account as well. We [hope] to be a receiver country and not an investor country,” he added.

Lejava believed AIIB would bring new opportunities to Georgia to attract more investments and therefore implement more projects.

Georgia’s Economy Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili hoped Georgia would benefit by joining the AIIB as it could be another large donor organisation for Georgia.

At this moment 15 countries have applied to join AIIB. The Chinese side expected this number to grow to 30, and to generate $50 million USD equity capital.

On Saturday Russia, Australia and the Netherlands announced they planned to join the AIIB, adding clout to an institution seen as enhancing China's regional and global influence.

The AIIB, seen as a challenger to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, has drawn a cool response from the United States (US), despite European US allies Britain, France, Germany and Italy already announcing they planned to join the bank.

The US thought the AIIB inhibited the US’ efforts to extend its influence in the Asia Pacific region to balance China's growing financial clout and assertiveness.

Meanwhile other countries such as Turkey and South Korea have also said they would join AIIB. Brazil, China's top trading partner, said it would sign up and if there were no conditions set.

Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the country was planning to apply to become a founding member. Similarly, the Netherlands also planned to join, announced Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on his official Facebook page after a meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China's Finance Ministry said Austria had also applied to join and had submitted its documents to China.

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