BEIJING – The standing of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is set for another boost after 13 further applicants were granted membership.
The accessions will bring the total roster of member countries to 70, and leave Japan and the U.S. as the only Group of Seven states without a stake in the lender.
Memberships for Afghanistan, Armenia, Belgium, Canada, Ethiopia, Fiji, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Peru, Sudan, Timor Leste and Venezuela would be completed once they finish domestic processes and deposit the first payment of capital, the AIIB said in a statement Thursday.
At a time when the Trump administration is signaling it will cut foreign aid and more broadly disengage from multilateral organizations, additions to the ranks of the AIIB signal China’s increased role on the global stage. Shrugging off U.S. qualms about the lender, the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and other American allies such as Australia and South Korea already signed up last year.
“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,” Jin Liqun, the bank’s president, said in a news release. Jin said in January that there were about 30 countries waiting to join.
The bank has begun lending activities, backing nine projects in seven countries in 2016 with total lending of $1.73 billion. Inaugural ventures ranged from a slum upgrade in Indonesia to a new pipeline linking gas fields in Azerbaijan to markets in Southern Europe, via Turkey.
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