AIIB membership to boost Taiwan’s chances for RCEP: finance ministry

By Enru Lin ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Finance Ministry said yesterday that joining China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB, �ȧ���) would increase Taiwan’s chances at entering the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and free-trade agreements.

On Tuesday, Taiwan applied to become a founding member of the AIIB, a Beijing-led venture set to fund major infrastructure projects in Asia by year’s end. In the wake of public qualms, the Finance Ministry’s National Treasury Administration (�]�F�����w�p) released a statement citing the reasons behind Taiwan’s bid. Participating in the AIIB increases the likelihood of Taiwan entering RCEP and signing more free-trade agreements, the Finance Ministry said. Joining also allows Taiwan to access market opportunities: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates that over the next decade, the amount of infrastructure investment in the Asia region will exceed US$8 trillion, according to the statement. So far, more than 40 countries have applied to join the AIIB as founding members. Applicants include major nations of Europe, as well as the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies, which analysts suggest are poised to overtake the G-7 economies by 2027. If Taiwan enters the AIIB, state authorities can attend its summits and other events, strengthening interactions with other nations and boosting visibility, the ministry said.

‘Not black box’: Deputy Minister Taiwan’s move toward the AIIB on Tuesday caused consternation in the Democratic Progressive Party, which has accused the central government of making the decision hastily and behind closed doors. At the Legislative Yuan yesterday, Deputy Finance Minister Wu Tang-chieh (�d����) reiterated to local media that action on Taiwan’s AIIB policy had begun last year. Last December, the Finance Ministry requested reports from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Central Bank and other state institutions and completed its assessment by March, Wu said yesterday in the Kuomintang caucus press room. ��There were absolutely no black-box proceedings,�� Wu said.