AIIB is ‘good in­vest­ment for US’

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By CHEN WEIHUA in Wash­ing­ton chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­ Amy He in New York contributed to this story.

Join­ing the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank (AIIB) would be a good in­vest­ment for the United States, a prom­i­nent econ­o­mist said.

David Dol­lar, a se­nior fel­low at the John L. Thorn­ton China Cen­ter of the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, made the re­marks on Tues­day evening dur­ing the an­nual China Town Hall held by the Na­tional Com­mit­tee on US-China Re­la­tions.

Dol­lar, a for­mer World Bank of­fi­cial and US Trea­sury of­fi­cial, was the lo­cal speaker at the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute US Cen­ter, just across the street from the Brook­ings, be­fore for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Henry Kissinger made a live-we­b­cast keynote speech to the town hall.

Dol­lar was in fa­vor of the US join­ing the AIIB right from the be­gin­ning. He said that there was a large num­ber of se­ri­ous and well-known peo­ple who think pos­i­tively about the AIIB, nam­ing for­mer Fed Chair­man Ben Ber­nanke, for­mer Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Hank Paul­son and for­mer World Bank Pres­i­dent Bob Zoel­lick.

He ad­mit­ted that it would be tough to get the Congress to ap­pro­pri­ate the money for the US to join the China-led AIIB. “It would take a pretty big ed­u­ca­tional ef­fort on the part of any ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Dol­lar said, trig­ger­ing laugh­ter among the au­di­ence.

“I think that would be a good in­vest­ment,” he added.

Aside from the anti-China sen­ti­ment among some US law­mak­ers, the Repub­li­can­con­trolled Congress has a gen­er­ally un­co­op­er­a­tive re­la­tion­ship with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

US of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Un­der­sec­re­tary of Trea­sury Nathan Sheets on Tues­day, now speak more pos­i­tively about the AIIB in con­trast to their rhetoric ear­lier this year, when the US was seen as try­ing to dis­suade its close al­lies — Aus­tralia, South Korea and the UK in par­tic­u­lar — from join­ing the AIIB.

Dol­lar said the AIIB has the po­ten­tial to quickly grow to the size of the World Bank.

“It’s off to a good start,” he said, re­fer­ring to the $509 mil­lion in in­vest­ments ap­proved by AIIB board in late June for four projects.

Three of the four projects are co-fi­nanced with the World Bank, the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank, the United King­dom De­part­ment for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment and the Euro­pean Bank for Re­con­struc­tion and De­vel­op­ment. They in­clude a power grid in Bangladesh, slum ren­o­va­tion in In­done­sia and high­way con­struc­tion in Ta­jik­istan and Pak­istan.

David Dol­lar, se­nior fel­low at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion

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