Pointing the Way Forward
China's top leadership convenes to map out economic and reform plans for 2015
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Cover Stories Series 2014> Reform Initiatives Underway for 2015> Retrospect> Feature
UPDATED: October 31, 2014 NO. 45 NOVEMBER 6, 2014
Free Trade for the Future
APEC leaders' Beijing meeting is expected to further propel regional economic integration
By Bai Shi

The blueprint will address the achievements and challenges to connectivity in this region, key initiatives for enhanced APEC connectivity and strategies for implementation.

Wang said that promoting connectivity is a task on which APEC member economies have continued to exert efforts.

In terms of people-to-people connectivity, for example, APEC developed a Business Travel Card several years ago. Holders of the card can travel visa-free between APEC member economies. It is expected to expand to other groups of people in the future, Wang said.

The proposal to strengthen connectivity, especially in terms of infrastructure investment, is greatly needed by many developing economies in the Asia-Pacific region. China has been making efforts to implement this proposal, Shen Minghui said.

According to the Asian Development Bank, $8 trillion will be needed in 2010-20 for Asian economies' infrastructure development. And according to the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, $55 trillion will be needed for global infrastructure development by 2030.

The multiple benefits of infrastructure construction are clear. However, promoting trade and investment, growing the economy, creating jobs and reducing poverty are harder to implement in many developing Asian economies. There are some principal bottlenecks, such as a lack of financing, and the return on investment is low while risks are high, Shen Minghui said.

On October 24, 21 Asian countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing.

The 21 AIIB founding members are Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam.

The memorandum of understanding specifies that the authorized capital of AIIB will be $100 billion and the initial subscribed capital is expected to be around $50 billion. The paid-in ratio will be 20 percent.

AIIB will be an inter-governmental regional development institution in Asia. As agreed, Beijing will be the host city for AIIB's headquarters.

It is expected that the Prospective Founding Members will complete the signing and ratification of the Articles of Agreement in 2015 and AIIB will be formally established by the end of 2015.

Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, said that AIIB would be a "welcome addition to the current situation" in light of the lack of funding for infrastructure in Asia.

Kim said he believes the World Bank will be highly capable of working well with the new bank.

Email us at: baishi@bjreview.com

Calendar of 2014 APEC Economic Leaders' Week

November 5-6: Concluding Senior Officials' Meeting

November 5-8: Fourth APEC Business Advisory Council Meeting

November 7-8: 26th APEC Ministerial Meeting

November 8-10: APEC CEO Summit

November 10-11: 22nd APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting

(Compiled by Beijing Review)

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