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Ireland joins China-led Asian bank in bid to boost links

Ireland’s application for membership of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has been formally approved.

Ireland is one of 13 applicants to the new Beijing-based international financial institution whose membership was approved yesterday.

It is the first time the AIIB has welcomed new members since it inception, the multilateral financial institution said.

The approved applicants include eight non-Asian countries – Canada, Belgium, Ethiopia, Hungary, Ireland, Peru, Republic of Sudan and Venezuela – and five regional members, namely Hong Kong, Afghanistan, Armenia, Fiji and Timor Leste.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said Ireland’s application for AIIB membership is based on a desire to further strengthen the State’s growing trade and economic links to Asia and China in particular.

“I am pleased that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Board of Governors approved Ireland’s application for membership,” he said.

“The AIIB will play an important role in fostering sustainable economic growth and prosperity in Asia and Ireland’s proposed membership will further strengthen our relationship with this important region.”

The US initially tried to dissuade allies from joining the Chinese-led initiative, amid concerns it would challenge the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, over which the US has influence. But as more countries signed up, the US changed its tune, with then Treasury Secretary Jack Lew saying as long as it complements existing institutions and adopts high governance standards, Washington would welcome it.

It has attracted many US allies including Britain, Germany, Australia and South Korea among the 57 founding members. Canada applied to join the AIIB last year. Ireland was not a founding member. Mr Noonan said Ireland will now proceed with the domestic legislative steps necessary to complete the membership process.

The AIIB was set up by China in 2014 to spur investment in Asia in transportation, energy, telecommunications and other infrastructure.

Ireland is already a member of the Asian Development Bank (ADP), having joined in 2006.
Jin Liqun, AIIB President, said the interest in joining AIIB affirms the rapid progress the bank has made to establish it as an international institution.

“I am very proud that AIIB now has members from almost every continent, and we anticipate further applications being considered by our Board of Governors later this year,” he said.

The 13 members will officially join AIIB once they complete the required domestic processes and deposit the first instalment of capital with the bank.
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