World Bank chief: New China infrastructure bank 'potential strong ally' in fighting poverty

WASHINGTON – The head of the World Bank said Tuesday he will do everything he can to work with a new Chinese-led Asian infrastructure bank opposed by Washington.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is a potentially strong ally in combating poverty. But he also echoed U.S. concerns the new bank should adhere to high environmental, labour and procurement standards.

The U.S. has found itself isolated with Japan in its resistance to the new bank, as more than 40 countries, including major allies in Asia and Europe, have signed up. U.S. officials have voiced concern the Beijing-based bank might undercut the Washington-based World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank, which by convention is headed by a Japanese official.

Kim told the Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank that, “there’s more than enough work to go around.” He estimated the developing world will need an additional $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion every year for investment in infrastructure like roads, bridges, railways, airports and energy plants.

Kim said he plans to discuss collaborating with the bank when he meets with Chinese and other officials in spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington next week.