The Cook Islands Government has welcomed confirmation by the Board of Governors of Cook Islands membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Confirmation of membership follows months of advocacy for membership by the Government, most recently in the margins of the Forum Leaders meeting held in Apia in September.
This brings total approved membership of the AIIB to 84 which include countries such as China, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
AIIB is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes within Asia and beyond. Conceived in 2014 as an initiative of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, in 2016, the AIIB invested $1.73billion in 9 projects across Asia.
At present, options available to the Cook Islands Government for development finance include the Asian Development Bank (which the Cook Islands has been a member of since 1976), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Export-Import Bank of China. The Cook Islands isn’t yet a member of the World Bank (WB) or the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The obstacle being United Nations membership a prerequisite for WB/IMF membership.
The 2015 Cook Islands National Investment Infrastructure Plan (NIIP) outlines the Cook Islands infrastructure investments and maintenance priorities for the next 10 years. The plan outlines strategic priorities for all major infrastructure sectors – air, marine and road transport, water supply, sanitation, solid waste management, energy, telecommunications and information technology, education, health and other infrastructure.
“Pending ODA graduation requires our Government continue to diversify development finance options to support our country’s development agenda, including as relate to infrastructure,” said Finance Minister Mark Brown.
“Our approach to development finance will necessarily continue to be a blend of our own finances with ODA including climate finance, borrowing and equity investment. Membership of the AIIB offers us another option for that mix,” said Brown.
The Ministries of Finance and Economic Management and Foreign Affairs and Immigration will follow through with the AIIB Secretariat in the new-year to complete the necessary processes and documentation and it is intended the Cook Islands will participate in the 3rd Annual Meeting of the AIIB in June 2018.
AIIB membership is contingent on support from the existing membership. “We appreciate the support for our membership as confidence in our Government’s ability to meet our obligations as a member and contribute meaningfully to the shared objectives of improving social and economic outcomes for the people of member countries of AIIB,” said Brown.