BEIJING (Kyodo) — Canada said Wednesday it will apply for membership to the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to help boost its and global economic growth.
The decision, which will leave Japan and the United States as the only ones among the Group of Seven industrial powers that have not joined the new bank, was announced by Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau in Beijing, according to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency and other media reports.
The minister was accompanying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on an official visit to China.
Trudeau earlier in the day told his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, “I think the strength of this friendship and the potential of this relationship is one that will set a new era for China’s positive and successful engagement in the world for its citizens, but also as a player on the world stage.”
If all goes smoothly, Canada will become the first North American member of the Beijing-headquartered bank, which formally started operations in January this year, with an authorized capital stock of $100 billion and 57 founding members.
For Canada, China is its second largest trading partner.
China sees the AIIB’s success as being vital for the country’s overarching goal of connecting countries along the ancient Silk Road more closely, under the “One Belt and One Road” initiative, as it steps up efforts to expand its political and economic influence as far away as Africa.
Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the AIIB’s creation in October 2013 to secure more funds for the building of infrastructure, such as roads, railways and power stations, in Asia.
China’s active role in establishing the new bank in less than three years has been largely welcomed by developing countries seeing that lending capacities of existing multilateral institutions, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, are not big enough to meet fast-growing demand for their infrastructure investment.
While numerous European countries decided to join the AIIB at the last minute, Japan and the United States did not do so, citing such reasons as skepticism over whether it will have sound lending standards and whether infrastructure projects to be funded by it will be environmentally friendly.