Friday marked the first day of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s (AIIB) fourth annual meeting, taking place on 12 and 13 July 2019 in Luxembourg-Kirchberg; this occasion also marked the first time that the meeting is being held outside Asia.
The two-day event has attracted more than 1,500 participants from over 100 countries to the Grand Duchy to discuss the theme of cooperation and connectivity. This fourth meeting also serves ro offer European shareholders and stakeholders in the AIIB a review of the bank’s activities since its creation three and a half years ago.
The annual meeting opened with an official ceremony in the Philharmonie in Luxembourg-Kirchberg, in the presence of representatives of the AIIB, the Luxembourg Government and Grand Ducal family, as well as representatives of Luxembourgish and international companies, shareholders and stakeholders in the bank and members of the national and international press.
Following a brief introduction by AIIB Vice-President and Corporate Secretary Sir Danny Alexander, Luxembourg’s Minister of Finance Pierre Gramegna, AIIB President Jin Liqun, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri, as well as the AIIB board governors for Singapore and Egypt, addressed the audience.
For his part, Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna focused on the importance of multilateralism, cooperation and connectivity, both for Luxembourg as a country and as part of global solutions to challenges such as climate change. In this context, he described the AIIB as “a ray of hope for multilateralism”, adding that the bank had made “the right choice” and “a courageous decision” in building mutual trust between shareholders worldwide and thus generating capital for infrastructure in emerging economies. He also emphasised the importance of sustainable finance in this regard. In his speech later in the ceremony, Grand Duke Henri agreed with the need for global solutions to global problems, adding that European-Asian cooperation is “crucial for sustainable development”.
AIIB President Jin Liqun, who was next to take the stage, began his speech by highlighting the role played by Luxembourg as the first European founding member of the bank and thus its role in “shaping AIIB governance for the 21st-century”. He then touched upon the AIIB’s slogan: “lean, clean and green”, particularly emphasising the bank’s anti-corruption stance and its promotion of a green economy (i.e. helping developing countries transition from high to low to zero carbon economies). In this context, he discussed how a well-connected infrastructure programme will “boost growth, create jobs, reduce poverty and empower women”.
Discussing Luxembourg’s choice to join the AIIB right from the start, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel referred to “believing in things” as one of the Grand Duchy’s strengths. Similarly, at a press conference held later in the afternoon at the European Convention Center, Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna reiterated Luxembourg’s strong belief in multilateralism, its belief in the AIIB’s governance and its focus on the environment and climate change and finally, its belief that the AIIB and similar institutions need to attract private investors to raise the “trillions not billions” of euros needed to face the challenges ahead. He added that Luxembourg was ideally positioned, as Europe’s leading financial centre, to bring such partners to the AIIB. He went on to compare the priorities of the European Investment Bank (EIB), both past and present, and those of the AIIB, namely their emphasis on connectivity and infrastructure in their development policies.
At the press conference, Jin Liqun also spoke of the probable approval of three new AIIB members (including two more European countries: Belgium and Greece) as of Saturday 13 July 2019, thus bringing the total number of members to 100 countries across all continents except Antarctica.
In addition to a number of seminars throughout the day, the first day of the AIIB's fourth annual meeting closed with a gala concert at the Philharmonie. The hugely anticipated international conference will continue on Saturday.