ISLAMABAD / BEIJING: The new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will boost investment in the region while contributing to “fairer” global economic governance, said China President Xi Jinping, on Saturday at the formal opening ceremony in Beijing.

Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar also took part in the ceremony, in addition to attending the first meeting of its Board of Governors in Beijing.

The China-backed AIIB consists of 57 members, including major economies such as Australia and South Korea, but notably excluding the US and Japan. Pakistan is one of the founding members of the AIIB.

“The funding and inauguration of the AIIB will effectively boost investment to support infrastructures development in Asia. It will serve to channel more resources, particularly private investment, into infrastructures projects,” Xi said.

Beijing will be by far the largest AIIB shareholder with about a 30% stake, according to the legal framework signed by founding member countries in June. Whereas Pakistan is one of 28 countries who have already ratified the Articles of Agreement (AOA) and is thus eligible to select Board of Director (BoD).

With authorised capital of $100 billion, it expects to offer its first batch of project loans in the first half of this year, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

“If Pakistani projects get included in this batch, among top priority would be hydroelectric dams and reservoir projects,” said Ishaq Dar.

The US-backed ADB Saturday said it would cooperate closely with the new bank.

Earlier this month, ADB President Takehiko Nakao said he did not believe the AIIB would diminish his institution, adding the two organisations “can complement each other”. Dar said he hoped that AIIB would work well together in conjunction with other development banks and fill the infrastructure development deficit in the region.

Beijing has already sought to expand its influence through Xi’s signature foreign policy initiative, known as “One Belt One Road,” a massive investment scheme aims to increase China’s footprint from central Asia to Europe through the use of loans to build infrastructure and transport networks.

The AIIB will lend $10-15 billion annually, the bank’s chief Jin Liqun said last month.

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