The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is targeting sustainable and robust growth through greater cooperation with countries in and beyond Asia despite volatility in global financial markets, especially emerging markets, said the bank’s chief.
“We are focused on Asia, but we are also looking to support non-Asian countries,” said Jin Liqun, president of the 2-year-old multilateral development institution.
Jin outlined his vision for further cooperation with regions around the world.
“In a globalized economy, no individual country or region can sustain itself without close links to the rest of the world,” he said ahead of his keynote speech in Beijing on Sept 6 at the fourth session of Vision China, a series of talks hosted by China Daily. The theme of this session is “China and Africa, Growing Together”.
“It is easy to showcase achievements during booming times. The real test will be when we face tough times and whether we can manage the ups and downs of geopolitics,” he said.
“I am not keen on building a behemoth. That is not my idea. What we need to do is scale up our program, step by step, on a solid foundation.”
Jin’s commitment to building closer ties with neighboring regions is well accepted and the AIIB has until now approved 37 non-regional members. Last month the AIIB welcomed Lebanon as its 87th member.
“Our doors are open for all those who want to join us, be they Asian or non-Asian, and includes even the United States and Japan,” he said.
The lender is also keeping a close watch on volatility in emerging markets like Turkey and Argentina. “It is tough, but not as bad as some people imagine. I think they (Turkey and Argentina) will be able to endure this difficult period and we remain committed to supporting their infrastructure projects,” Jin said.
The bank maintains a close relationship with the Belt and Road Initiative.
“We think international standards on transparency and environmental protection are necessary for the BRI to be successful, and the AIIB can help in this regard.
“Since most of our member countries are along the BRI route, when we support the development of our member countries, we will support the initiative,” Jin said.
Perhaps the real sign of the AIIB’s concerted efforts come from the strong triple-A ratings given by global ratings agencies, the highest among multilateral development institutions.
“The AIIB’s development portfolio has expanded significantly as investment operations have gathered pace, especially due to further progress in strengthening its governance framework and risk management architecture,” said Moody’s Investors Service in an outlook published on Aug 21.
“Management is the key,” said Jin, adding that it has also been the driving force for his stewardship of the lender since he assumed office in January 2016.
It was Jin’s steadfast ambition to build a “high-standard and new-type” multilateral development institution that prompted 57 countries to join the bank as founding members, including the United Kingdom.
“We expect the AIIB’s capital base to remain very large in relation to its assets as its balance sheet continues to grow over the next 10 years, providing ample financial capacity to fulfill the bank’s mandate to invest in infrastructure in Asia,” said Christian de Guzman, a vice-president and senior credit officer at Moody’s.
By the end of 2017, the AIIB’s total investment in projects and funds reached $4.22 billion, up from $1.69 billion in 2016. Its total assets increased to $18.97 billion, a year-on-year growth of 6.62 percent, according to its annual report.
It has been 40 years since Jin first moved to Beijing, the same year that China embarked on its reform and opening-up mission. Before that, Jin lived in rural areas for 10 years.
That experience gave him a better understanding of people living in poverty and how to alleviate it.
“Chinese people have benefited a lot from the reform and opening-up, but they should not rest on the laurels of 40 years ago. Rather, they should work even harder to face new challenges,” said Jin.