Australia has signaled its readiness to join the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, despite strong objections from the U.S., with a final decision expected Monday. Treasurer Joe Hockey said that the bank was a positive development that could help address a worrying backlog of unfunded infrastructure in Australia’s immediate region, including in neighboring Indonesia.
“This is going to operate in our region, in our neighborhood. There is a lot of merit in it,” Mr. Hockey told a local radio station in Brisbane Friday. “But we want to make sure that there are proper governance procedures, that there is transparency, that no one country is able to control the entity.”
Australia had been expected to become a founding member after lengthy negotiations last year. Only days before an expected signing ceremony, Australia came under intense lobbying from Washington—capped by a telephone call from President Barack Obama to Prime Minister Tony Abbott—prompting Australia to step back, citing governance and transparency concerns. Washington sees the bank as a potential rival to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank where the U.S. holds greater sway.
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