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Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Bill 2017

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Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Bill 2017

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Deputy Thomas P. Broughan

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Snippet Contents:

I am grateful for the opportunity to briefly comment on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Bill 2017. This Bill is to obtain Oireachtas approval for Ireland to join the AIIB before the end of 2018 and it is a strong indication of the dramatic changes which have taken place in the global economy over the past three decades. The rate of development of the BRICS economies in particular, despite recent slowdowns in growth, show the dramatic rise in the share of world production by the BRICS countries and especially by China. That economic development is mirrored in the Minister’s decision to join the bank, which has 57 founding signatories from June 2015 and up to 25 African, European and South American countries, including Ireland, Belgium and Canada, look set to join this year. Including the 52 countries that have ratified the bank's articles of agreement, up to 77 countries may have joined by the end of the year.
The AIIB was first proposed by President Xi Jinping of China in a Bali conference in October 2013 and President Xi seemed to envisage the bank as a new international development bank, raising major capital to fund roads, rail, power and communication grids across Asia. Although initially welcomed by Secretary of State, John Kerry, the Obama Administration remained very suspicious of the proposal and tried to dissuade its closest allies like Britain, Germany, Australia and South Korea from joining the organisation. The Cameron Conservative Government, perhaps anticipating the difficulties the current Government or the Government in place after the general election will face in Brexit, decided to become a founding member of the AIIB and its $100 billion fund.
At the time, human rights groups and promoters of multi-party democracy in Hong Kong and China felt that the UK was too willing to placate the Chinese Communist Government and these concerns remain regarding our Government’s proposal. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett reminds me that, many times in this House, I have raised the situation of Tibet and the Uyghur nations. Huge territories of the People's Republic of China are, of course, distinct nations, and there has been grotesque repression in them over the last 40 to 50 years.
Many observers have questioned the need for a new Asian development bank, given the past role of the US-led World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Japanese-led Asian Development Bank. The Obama Administration and other economists openly worried that China will use the AIIB to set its own Asian and global economic agendas and will ignore environmental protections and standards. Human rights, especially of workers on large infrastructural projects, anti-corruption standards - in tendering and awarding of contracts in particular - and company governance standards are concerns. We have seen the massive expansion of the Chinese Government's export economy and infrastructural development in so many countries of Africa, which has raised many questions about basic rights, especially for workers and native populations.
American Governments have long called on China to assume a leadership role in the global economy and to prioritise infrastructural development in Asia. China has also complained that the Bretton Woods architecture, the development of which was led by the US after the Second World War, refuses to recognise the massively growing role of China in the world economy. The Asian Development Bank is dominated by Japan and headquartered in Tokyo, and its voting share at that bank is more than twice that of China.