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Spotlight: Lebanon becomes 87th AIIB member as bank's annual meeting concludes in India

Jun 28

 Spotlight: Lebanon becomes 87th AIIB member as bank's annual meeting concludes in India

Lebanon has become the 87th member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) after its application was approved.

The Board of Governors of the AIIB on Tuesday approved the inclusion of Lebanon at the multilateral bank's annual meeting in India's financial hub of Mumbai.

AIIB President Jin Liqun made the announcement during a press conference after the conclusion of the two-day annual meeting on Tuesday.

After all due processes were completed as well as depositing the first capital installment, Lebanon will officially become a member of the AIIB.

The shares allocated to the new prospective member come from AIIB's existing pool of unallocated shares.

Lebanon's inclusion coincides with the AIIB president's call for inclusivity.

AIIB President Jin said that Asia is the Beijing-based bank's top priority but it will continue to add members from other regions as well.

'The ultimate objective of the bank is to improve people's lives in Asia and beyond,' said Jin.

Today, developing countries in Asia account for 60 percent of global economic growth. About two-thirds of global trade is part of value-chains passing through Asia. 'Indeed, Asia is assuming leadership in new areas,' Jin said in his speech during the meeting.

He added 'As Asia's economic growth has far outpaced the global average for nearly three decades, Asia's economy has become a global heavyweight.'

The AIIB president reiterated that Asian countries have supported global integration and have benefitted greatly from it, but rising protectionist tendencies may now wipeout the gains of globalization.

'Unfortunately, protectionism practiced by some countries is likely to dim the prospects for all countries in the world, including themselves. Globalization can be disruptive. A key task of the governments is to ensure that the benefits of trade are widely spread, to help the losers adjust and become winners,' said the AIIB president.

Jin reiterated that economic openness and investment in infrastructure had driven Asia's growth in previous decades. Hence, he advocates for the global integration of economies to continue further in order to benefit all, including the poor, as 11 percent of Asia's population still live in poverty.

'There is no room for complacency,' Jin said. 'We know that poverty is concentrated in areas that do not have good connectivity to the global market. So part of the solution is right in front of us. We simply need to act on. It is against this backdrop that the AIIB was formed.'

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his inaugural address, lauded the AIIB's achievements over its short span of less than three years, and suggested that the multilateral bank expand its financing.

The third annual meeting of the AIIB was attended by more than 3,000 delegates from over 80 countries and regions from Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America.

The two-day event included 22 seminars and concurrent sessions where political leaders, economists, investors, academics and gender activists discussed a wide range of topics.

The fourth annual meeting of the AIIB will take place in Luxembourg in 2019.

'Luxembourg is honored to become the first non-regional member of the AIIB to host the bank's annual meeting,' said Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna.

Officially launched in January 2016, the Beijing-based AIIB is a multilateral development bank initiated by China and supported by a wide range of countries and regions, which will provide financing for infrastructure improvement in Asia.