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AIIB membership reaches 70

Thirteen new members have been accepted into the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), bringing the total approved membership to 70.24 Mar 2017

Belgium, Canada, Ethiopia, Hungary, Ireland, Peru, the Republic of Sudan and Venezuela have been approved as prospective members from outside Asia, alongside regional prospective members Afghanistan, Armenia, Fiji, Hong Kong and Timor Leste.

The prospective members will officially join AIIB once they deposit their first instalment of capital with the bank, the AIIB said.

Each new member will become shareholders in AIIB. Shares will be allocated from a pool of shares that are currently unallocated, it said.

The Chinese-led AIIB was announced in Beijing in 2014 with the aim of boosting investment in infrastructure in Asia and was established formally by 57 member countries that signed the Articles of Agreement in June 2015. It is expected to have initial capital of close to $100 billion to invest in infrastructure projects and will be financed by individual country contributions proportionate to their economic size.

In its first year the AIIB has approved loans worth $1.73 billion to support nine infrastructure projects in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Azerbaijan and Oman. The projects include a natural gas pipeline from the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan across Turkey to Europe, co-funded by the World Bank. Port and railway projects in Oman, power plants in Myanmar and Pakistan and a slum upgrade project in Indonesia have also received financial support from the AIIB. 

The AIIB has become a focal point in the struggle between the US and China over who will influence economic and trade rules in Asia. The World Bank is led by the US. When the UK announced its plans to join the bank, the US told the Financial Times that this was part of a trend of "constant accommodation" to China.

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