The potential role of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

China’s president, Xi Jinping, announced the creation of an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) just before the October 2013 APEC meeting in Bali. If the new bank is managed professionally to finance commercially viable investments in economic infrastructure, it can begin to correct a very significant failure of global financial markets.

There is room for a new development bank, specialised in financing large-scale economic infrastructure on commercial terms, working alongside existing multilateral development banks, including the World Bank and the ADB. These well-established institutions have the expertise to lend a lot more for infrastructure, but have moved in a different direction. Net lending by multilateral development banks on commercial terms has been negative in five of the last ten years, including 2011 and 2012. The World Bank and the ADB are now focusing on concessional lending and knowledge sharing with low-income countries, leaving an important niche to be filled by a new financial institution. Continue reading