EIB plan­ning to step up co­op­er­a­tion with China

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By FU JING in Brussels fu­jing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Euro­pean In­vest­ment Bank, Europe’s long-term lend­ing in­sti­tu­tion, is ex­pected to of­fi­cially inaugurate its of­fice in Bei­jing in June to partly co­op­er­ate with China-led Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank, which it has dis­cussed with China for a long time, said its top ex­ec­u­tive.

The lender will work with China to raise funds for the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s 315 bil­lion eu­ros ($339.2 bil­lion) in­vest­ment plan for Europe­spread­over­three years, said Wern­erHoyer, pres­i­dent of the EIB.

Com­ment­ing on the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank, Hoyer said at a brief­ing on Wed­nes­day: “We have been in touch with the Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties for a long time.”

With 18 Euro­pean coun­tries ap­ply­ing to be­come found­ing mem­bers of the AIIB, Hoyer said his bank is not in a po­si­tion to join asa“share­holder”, as it­would­mean hold­ing a “sovereign” sta­tus.

“But I think it will not be a bad idea to learn from the ex­pe­ri­ences of EIB, when it comes to cre­at­ing the struc­ture and pro­ce­dures for the new lender,” Hoyer said. “We will­have close in­ter­ac­tion­swith­the Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties and the oth­ers who want to be AIIB share­hold­ers.”

Hoyer said the lender has al­ready in­vested in a health­care re­search project in Spain, an air­port ex­pan­sion project in Croa­tia, con­struc­tion of 14 newhealth­care cen­ters in Ire­land and on industrial in­no­va­tion in Italy to­tal­ing 300 mil­lion eu­ros. The loans will sup­port over­all in­vest­ment of around 850 mil­lion eu­ros for public and pri­vate sec­tor projects but the fig­ure is still triv­ial com­pared with Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s plan to raise 315 bil­lion eu­ros within three years.

“We are work­ing very closely with China. It (China) is an im­por­tant part­ner for us when it comes to fi­nanc­ing projects in China and in Europe,” saidHoyer.

He said China is an im­por­tant buyer of the EIB bonds with pur­chases of about 60 to 80 bil­lion eu­ros ev­ery year.

To fur­ther deepen the close co­op­er­a­tion, Hoyer said his­bankis plan­ning to sign a host agree­ment with China soon. As part of this, Hoyer will travel to Bei­jing in June to for­mally set up the EIB of­fice, though it has been work­ing unof­fi­cially for two years.

Bei­jing has ap­proached the Euro­pean Union on join­ing the AIIB, but Brussels has hinted that only mem­ber states should get in­volved in the ini­tia­tive, ac­cord­ing to An­nika Brei­dthardt, the EU spokes­woman for jobs, growth and in­vest­ment.

She said pre­vi­ously that a com­mon­ap­proach would put theEUin a stronger po­si­tion to en­sure that the AIIB is set up in line with in­ter­na­tional best prac­tices for the ben­e­fit of its re­cip­i­ent coun­tries.

Brei­dthardt said it is es­sen­tial that the new in­sti­tu­tion fol­lows in­ter­na­tional best prac­tices in terms of trans­parency and safe­guards in im­por­tant ar­eas such as im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment and health, fair la­bor con­di­tions and pro­cure­ment.

From the EU per­spec­tive, she said the in­creased in­vest­ment in Asia’s in­fra­struc­ture is highly wel­come and it is a busi­ness op­por­tu­nity, also forEU­com­pa­nies.

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