Source: Global Times Published: 2017-3-29
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) said Tuesday it has approved $285 million in loans to finance infrastructure in Indonesia and Bangladesh.
The new loans increased the multilateral development bank`s total lending to over $2 billion, according to a press release sent by the AIIB to the Global Times Tuesday.
The new loans include $125 million for a dam project in Indonesia and $100 million for the Indonesian Regional Infrastructure Development Fund. Both projects are co-financed by the World Bank.
Another $60 million loan was granted to improve a gas transmission network in Bangladesh, co-financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The loans are "different in their focus, but united in their effort to provide infrastructure spending to stimulate growth and improve the lives of local communities," said DJ Pandian, AIIB vice president and chief investment officer.
Established in 2015, the bank welcomed 13 new members last week, bringing its total membership to 70.
Though not specifically set up to assist the China-proposed Belt and Road (B&R) initiative, experts said the new loans will boost socio-economic development in Asia, which falls in the same direction as the initiative, put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 to enhance connectivity, trade and investment among Asian, European and African countries.
Belt and Road progress
The ADB said Asia needs to invest $26 trillion by 2030 to resolve its infrastructure shortage in transportation, power and sanitation that could potentially hold back the growth of some of the world`s fastest-growing economies, media reports said in February.
"These loans are given to countries along the initiative, and will work to boost the development of their economies, which is in the spirit of the B&R initiative. And this shows the connections between AIIB loans and the Belt & Road countries," a scholar, who declined to be named and is familiar with the AIIB, told the Global Times Tuesday.
Tuesday marks the second anniversary of the publication of the government document, "The Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road."
The Beijing-based Commercial Press published an annual report on the B&R initiative, tracing the progress made during the past three years. It said the initiative has boosted the socio-economic development of countries along the Belt and Road route, among other achievements.
The document was issued in March 2015 by China`s top economic planner National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).
On Monday, New Zealand became the first Western country to sign a cooperation agreement with China on the B&R, showing that the initiative has generated wider support from developed nations.
The B&R initiative has become China`s name card, both politically and economically, said Wang Wen, executive director of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, on Tuesday.
"Some Western media tend to brand the B&R initiative as China`s aggressive strategic ambition, but this is an exaggeration. China`s B&R vision should be seen as an overture, to show its commitment to providing public goods and services to countries willing to take part, even as China itself continues to learn about the strategy by doing it," Wang told the Global Times.
In 2016, Chinese companies invested a total of $14.53 billion in 53 countries and regions along the Belt and Road initiative, data from MOFCOM showed in January.
Major investments were made in Singapore, Indonesia, India, Thailand and Malaysia.
In 2016, Chinese firms also closed 8,158 new deals worth $126 billion in 61 countries and regions along the initiative, MOFCOM data showed. The value of the total deals was up 36 percent from the previous year.
Wang Wen is the Executive Dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.