Date
23 January 2017
The EBRD headquarters in London. Joining the bank would build on China's initiatives to bolster trade ties with Europe and Asia. Photo: Bloomberg
The EBRD headquarters in London. Joining the bank would build on China's initiatives to bolster trade ties with Europe and Asia. Photo: Bloomberg

China seeks EBRD membership to push One Belt, One Road plan

China has applied to become a member of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

Membership in the multilateral developmental investment bank will give Beijing a new way of extending its global influence after its steps to boost trade links with Europe and Asia, Reuters said.

The EBRD board is expected early next week to recommend approval of China’s bid to the bank’s shareholders, the news agency said.

The board, dominated by G7 governments, is likely to make a final decision in December and, if successful, China would take a small stake.

Joining the EBRD would build on China’s initiatives to bolster trade ties with Europe and Asia under its “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

“China has made a formal application for membership of the EBRD just a few days ago. This is going to be considered by the board,” EBRD acting chief economist Hans Peter Lankes said.

“We would expect there to be a mid-December decision [by shareholders] on this.”

In May, the EBRD said it was ready to cooperate on projects with China and its newly launched Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

A number of European governments decided to become founding members of the AIIB despite misgivings in the United States, which fears the bank will effectively expand China’s sway at the expense of Western lenders.

The EBRD was set up by governments in 1991 to support former communist states in eastern Europe but has expanded its mandate in recent years to parts of North Africa and central Asia, as well as eurozone crisis countries Greece and Cyprus.

The bank is owned by 64 countries altogether, the European Union and the European Investment Bank.

An EBRD official said China had initially sounded out the bank about becoming a member back in August and the formal request came after Chinese President Xi Jingping visited London, where the EBRD is based, last month.

One of the areas most likely to interest China is the EBRD’s work in neighboring Kazakhstan, where it is set to invest around 1 billion euros (US$1.09 billion) in coming years to help extend a new “Silk Road” from Western China into Russia.

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