Analysts note that Luxembourg will gain more prominence as a financial center...!
Asia, Europe join hands to boost cooperation in banking sector
BRUSSELS-- It is of no surprise that the Chinese-run Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) decided to hold its fourth annual meeting for the first time outside in Europe, in Luxembourg.
As AIIB Vice President Danny Alexander pointed out that Luxembourg was an ideal choice to host the meeting to send a message to Europe to strengthen banking cooperation with Asia.
The tiny Grand Duchy is not only a major international financial center but also hosts the world's second largest investment fund as well as major EU institutions such as the European Investment Bank, the European Stability Mechanism, the EU court of justice and the EU's statistical service Eurostat.
Analysts note that Luxembourg will gain more prominence as a financial center once the UK leaves the EU in October as expected.
Luxembourg was the first European country to sign as an AIIB founding member in 2015.
In total, 18 EU member states have joined AIIB, signaling the interest of European countries to strengthen cooperation with the Asian bank.
The Luxembourg meeting aimed to gain support of European members and demonstrate how multilateral institutions are well positioned to enhance connectivity between Europe and Asia.
"We look forward to learning from and partnering with Europe's leading organizations to fight climate change and develop sustainable infrastructure in Asia and beyond," said Alexander.
Cooperation and connectivity was the theme of the annual AIIB meeting in Luxembourg on 13-14 July, attracting over 1,500 participants from over 100 countries.
"By hosting AIIB's first Annual Meeting to be held outside Asia, Luxembourg will further demonstrate its role as a bridge in the heart of Europe bringing European and Asian stakeholders together," said Luxembourg Minister of Finance Pierre Gramegna.
"Three and a half years into our operation, it is time we came to Luxembourg, and to Europe, to inform our European stakeholders about how we have developed," noted AIIB President Jin Liqun.
The first AIIB annual meeting was held in Beijing in 2016, followed by Jeju, South Korea in 2017 and Mumbai, India in 2018 and the next one will be held in Beijing again in 2020.
The top-level presence of Gulf countries at the AIIB meet underlined the interests of both sides to expand cooperation in construction of infrastructures and sustainable developments in the Arab world.
Besides Kuwait's Finance Minister Dr. Nayef Al-Hajraf, Saudi finance minister Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan and the UAE minister of state Sultan Al-Jaber, were in attendance.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE are members of the bank.
Al-Hajraf after a meeting with the AIIB chief Jin Liqun said, "Kuwait has made sure to be one of the first countries to join the AIIB, and to be one of the countries that have an active role and presence in the organization through its participation in the meetings not only as a founding member, but also it brings great experience in the field of financing development projects.
On his part, Liqun expressed his gratitude for Kuwait's strong support to AIIB.
AIIB's Director General for Investment Operations Department Yee Ean Pang, told Kuwait news agency (KUNA), that the bank is most interested that Gulf countries get more involved in the bank.
"The Gulf countries were represented at the highest level and that was very good as support to the bank," he said.
Pang cited the example of Oman where the bank is helping in the development of the telecommunication sector and the country's port.
Laurel Ostfield, AIIB's spokesperson and Director General of Communications, told KUNA that it is possible that an annual AIIB meeting could be held in some Gulf country in the future.
"We are interested in hosting an annual meeting in the Gulf. Conversations are going on with some Gulf countries but it is up to the board of governors to decide it," she said.
Since it started operations in January 2016, AIIB has approved USD 8 billion for 40 projects in 16 countries, consisting of 100 members from all over the world.