Maldives becomes founding member of Asian infrastructure bank

The Maldives signed articles of agreement today to establish the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as one of 57 prospective founding members.

Finance minister Abdulla Jihad signed the agreement at a ceremony held this morning at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The AIIB was created in October to fund Asian energy, transport and infrastructure projects and rival the Western-dominated World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

Following the signing ceremony, Maldives ambassador to China Mohamed Faisal said the bank will become “an important global financial institution.”

Arif Hilmy, an advisor to the finance minister, will reportedly represent the Maldives on the bank’s board.

Representatives from 50 of the 57 founding members also signed articles of agreement today, which determines each members’ share and contribution to capital.

The UK, France, Germany, Norway, Russia, Australia, South Korea, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia, and Brazil are among AIIB founding members, but Japan and the US are opposed to the bank.

The US had questioned standards at the new institution and tried to dissuade allies from joining.

The bank is due to begin operations later this year with a capital of US$100 billion. With 30.4 percent, China is the largest shareholder, followed by India (15 percent) and Russia (6.5 percent).

China also has effective veto power over the bank’s decisions with its more than 25 percent voting share.

During a recent visit to China, President Abdulla Yameen said Sino-Maldives bilateral relations are at an “all-time high” with the establishment of a cooperative partnership between the countries last year.