AIIB president Jin Liqun speaking at the bank's annual meeting opening ceremony on 12 July
Photo: SIP/Jean-Christophe Verhaegen
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) annual meeting kicked off in Kirchberg Friday morning, an opportunity for the bank’s president and Luxembourg officials to reconfirm their commitment to enhanced cooperation between Europe and Asia.
Luxembourg was selected as the first European country to host the event, taking place on 12-13 July, given that it was also the first country on the continent to become a member of the bank--a decision that “wasn’t the easiest”, as prime minister Xavier Bettel pointed out during the opening ceremony. Nevertheless, he added, “we had always tried to be a first mover”, citing steel, satellites and finance among other areas in which Luxembourg has forged new avenues.
In his speech, AIIB president Jin Liqun announced that as of Saturday, when its board of governors meets, the bank anticipates the approval of three new members, bringing the total to 100. Belgium and Greece are expected to be among them, Luxembourg finance minister Pierre Gramegna added.
“There has always been a strong bond between Asian and European countries,” Liqun said. “We are physically bound to each other. Yet tough terrain impedes this geographical affinity, hampering exchanges in commerce, investment and culture. Now is the time to improve our connectivity in all its dimensions.”
Grand Duke Henri, in the final speech of the ceremony, talked about his father. The late Grand Duke Jean, he said, “would have been proud of this spirt of cooperation and openness, having spent more than two years on the battlefields during World War II and having witnessed the devastating consequences of extremism and nationalism.”
Nevertheless, Liqun explained that AIIB began operations in 2016, just weeks after the Paris Agreement negotiations were concluded by some 200 countries in December 2015.
“It was within this atmosphere of multilateral efforts to address the formidable challenge of climate change that our bank was born,” he said. “Climate change mitigation is crucial for all of us and, more importantly, for generations to come.”
In his view, MDBs more broadly have a “crucial role to play” when addressing such challenges but that strong infrastructure will be key to counter the constraints impacting developing Asia’s growth.
“For every dollar spent in gross capital formation, 40 cents should be spent on infrastructure,” Liqun said. “While some Asian economies have increased their investments to six to seven percent of GDP, other economies are struggling, particularly countries at low income levels.”
The two days of meetings are expected to bring about new partnerships and improved coordination when it comes to investment. As Liqun added, “Today, the world is not short of liquidity.”