Ready or not, here we come: AIIB's Jin Liqun says US welcome to join as Washington looks increasingly isolated in opposing the lender. Photo: Reuters

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank President Jin Liqun said the development lender set up by Beijing in part to counter developed nations’ domination of the global financial system remains open to the US becoming a member.

The door is “flat open and will remain that way,” Jin told Bloomberg in an interview, adding that the bank is a “multilateral development institution” which “maintains a consistent policy.”

AIIB opened for business a year ago with 57 founding members, including most key US allies such as Germany, the UK and South Korea that broke ranks and signed up in the face of opposition from Washington. More than 30 more countries are also lining up to join the AIIB, with Canada’s application in August leaving Japan as the only significant holdout among America’s key allies.

Tokyo sees the China-backed lender as a threat to the Asian Development Bank, which Japan and the US have led since its foundation in 1966. AIIB, which is part of President Xi Jinping’s push to increase China’s influence — especially in countries identifed in the One Belt One Road investment and trade program — has US$100 billion in pledged capital.

The US and AIIB “can work very well together,” Jin said, adding that the bank encourages American companies to participate in bidding for infrastructure projects. Jin also noted that there have been positive reactions to the bank from across the political spectrum in the US.

The Barack Obama administration’s decision to oppose the AIIB had been a “strategic mistake,” James Woolsey, a former adviser to the transition team of Donald Trump, said in a November 10 article in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. Woolsey quit the transition team on January 5 over Trump’s vision for the intelligence services.

AIIB approved at total of US$1.73 billion in loans for nine projects in 2016, including a slum resettlement project in Indonesia, a hydropower project in Pakistan and a natural gas pipeline in Azerbaijan that were co-financed with the World Bank. ADB and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development also co-funded projects, with AIIB’s staff selecting the remainder, Jin told Bloomberg.

The bank will continue to collaborate with other lenders while working to increase both its capability and disbursements, Jin said. The bank’s priority is to “have better balance across the regions, countries and sectors” as the pipeline for projects increase, he said.

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