Seoul agrees to join the Beijing-led AIIB project

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Seoul agrees to join the Beijing-led AIIB project

Korea has finally decided to join the China-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance said Thursday.

In an official statement, the Finance Ministry said Seoul sent a letter to Beijing saying it is willing to join as a founding member of the bank.

“If the current prospective founding members agree on Korea’s joining, Korea will be granted the membership,” said the statement. “Within June, when all negotiations for the foundation of the bank are completed, Korea will sign an agreement and then membership will be finally confirmed through a ratification procedure at the National Assembly.

“The AIIB will become the first international finance organization that we join as a major founding member,” it said. “While expectations are growing that the operations of the AIIB will open up a large-scale construction market in Asia, Korea’s participation in the AIIB will give new business opportunities to Korean companies with lots of experiences in the infrastructure business, such as construction, transportation and telecommunication.”

Previously, Korea has clearly called for improving the current governance structure of the bank. The statement said there has been “significant progress” from Beijing in meeting the demand.

The statement said the Korean government will closely cooperate with its allies to make the bank a reliable financial institution in terms of transparency, governance and debt management.

Korea has been hesitant to join the bank for fear of straining ties with the United States.

Washington has expressed concern that China will use the bank for political purposes and make it a rival to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

A total of 27 countries have agreed to join the bank as founding members.

The Korean statement said the shares of founding members will be decided based on the gross domestic products of each member.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [kim.heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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