Mr. Aso: Will the AIIB be on the table in Washington next week?

Asia Unhedged thinks Japan Finance Minister Taro Aso should try to be consistent on whether  the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is on the agenda at next week’s G-20 finance leaders’ meeting in Washington.

Aso insisted to Japan’s Jiji Press on Thursday that the AIIB won’t be discussed at the annual get together of G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors. He shifted his position on Friday, more or less conceding that the AIIB is too big an elephant in the room for the global finance honchos to ignore.

“I don’t think it will be a major topic of debate, but if it is discussed, Japan would make the same demand as before,” Aso was quoted by Reuters as telling reporters after a cabinet meeting.

If the AIIB is discussed, Aso says Japan will reiterate its call for transparency about the AIIB’s structure and governing rules. He says Tokyo especially wants to establish a system for screening loan applications from the bank’s members.

Aso is mincing words about discussing the AIIB in Washington. But he’s not shy about whether the AIIB will be on the table when Japan and China resume their financial dialogue talks in Beijing in June.

The AIIB will definitely be on the agenda, according to Aso, along with an exchange of views on  recent yuan currency moves and China’s shadow banking system.

Tokyo may be nervous about saying too much about possible AIIB membership. But Asia Unhedged is quite sure that the AIIB will be on the tips of some tongues when finance ministers and central bankers from the G-7 nations also meet informally in Washington next week ahead of a Group of 20 ministerial meeting. All of this is taking place ahead of the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank. Can any of these bodies afford to ignore the AIIB anymore?

More than 40 countries are hustling to join the AIIB, with the U.S. and Japan still hanging back.



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