Switzerland has been accepted as a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), according to a statement by the Chinese finance ministry on Saturday. It is one of the first European countries to be admitted.
The AIIB was set up by China with the aim of becoming a regional lending institution to rival the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. Switzerland had applied for membership last week and was one of the first European countries to be accepted, joining France, Germany, Italy and the UK.
The bank already has a starting capital of $50 billion (CHF48.1 billion) contributed by China. The amount is expected to reach $100 billion with contribution from other member countries.
The objective of the bank is to promote sustainable development in Asia with a special focus on countries most in need of economic assistance. It will focus on providing loans and guarantees for infrastructure projects in the areas of energy, transport, telecommunications, urban and rural development, and the environment.
The deadline for applying to be a founding member is March 31. Those joining after the deadline will do so only as common members without the privilege of being able to frame the founding statues of the bank. So far, China has accepted 30 countries as founding members.
The bank’s statues should be approved by the end of the year. Only after this can Switzerland confirm its definite participation, which must also be approved by the parliament. The Swiss financial contribution to AIIB will also have to be finalised.
swissinfo.ch and agencies