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World Bank welcomes China's new bank in poverty fight

[WASHINGTON] China's new development bank can have an important role in fighting extreme poverty if it establishes high standards for its projects, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said on Tuesday.

Vowing to work with an institution resisted by the United States, Mr Kim called the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank "a major new player in development" that is a "potentially strong" ally in its own work to help development in the poorest countries.

"If the world's multilateral banks, including the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank, can form alliances, work together, and support development that addresses these challenges, we all benefit - especially the poor and most vulnerable," Mr Kim said in a Washington speech.

"It is our hope - indeed, our expectation - that these new entries will join the world's multilateral development banks and our private-sector partners on a shared mission to promote economic growth that helps the poorest."

Despite Washington's resistance, China has received applications from more than 50 countries, including important US allies, to join the AIIB, which will aim at financing infrastructure development around Asia.

The United States and Japan though have resisted joining, with Washington warning that the AIIB needs to erect strong standards for lending and project development, and be fully transparent in its approach.

The United States sees the AIIB and a development bank planned by the BRICS emerging-market countries, the New Development Bank, as competitors to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, where the United States is the largest shareholder.

Mr Kim echoed that concern. He stressed that only "with the right environment, labour and procurement standards" can the two new institutions become important forces to fight poverty.

In that case, he said, "the World Bank Group sees these development banks as potentially strong allies."

Mr Kim said he will have talks with Chinese authorities next week at the World Bank's spring meetings in Washington on potential cooperation.

"I will do everything in my power to find innovative ways to work with these banks," he said.


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