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U.S. should support Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

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In a recent op-ed in The Financial Times, Larry Summers criticized the
U.S. for not backing the creation of a new China-led international bank
that would finance major infrastructure projects across the Asia Pacific
region; the former U.S. secretary of treasury decried it a “failure of
strategy and tactics” and called for “a comprehensive review of the U.S.
approach to global economics.”

美国前财政部长拉里•萨默斯最近在英国《金融时报》发表评论,批评美国政府不该冷漠对待亚投行,这家由中国牵头发起的新国际银行将为亚太地区的重要基础设施项目提供资金。萨默斯认为,美国政府犯下了一场“战略和战术上的失败”,并呼吁其“全面检讨对全球经济该采取的姿态”。

Summers’ pointed words followed those of another Clinton Administration
alumnus. Madeleine Albright, America’s former top diplomat, who late
last month said the United States had “screwed up” in its unsuccessful
efforts to dissuade other countries from supporting the Asian
Infrastructure Investment Bank.

无独有偶,就在萨默斯措辞尖锐地指责美国政府前不久,另一位克林顿时期的政府要员、前国务卿奥尔布赖特上个月也批评了奥巴马政府。她表示,美国政府费那么大力气想把其他国家拦在亚投行之外,最后却把事情“搞得一团糟”。

Both Summers’ and Albright’s remarks came as diplomats and business
executives from Asia and Europe have embraced the bank. Great Britain,
Germany, France, Italy, South Korea and Australia, are among more than
40 nations who have brushed aside the White House’s concerns over the
intentions of the bank and whether it will follow “high quality,
time-tested standards.” China will provide much of the AIIB’s initial
$100 billion in funding. The bank is expected to be up and running by
the end of this year, helping finance transport, water, energy and other
infrastructure projects.    

这边萨默斯和奥尔布赖特的责备不断,那边亚洲和欧洲的外交官和企业高管已经开始对亚投行积极示好。尽管美国一直在质疑亚投行成立的
目的,还担心亚投行“没法遵守高质量的、经得起时间考验的标准”,但英国、德国、法国、意大利、韩国和澳大利亚等40多个国家并未理会,仍然申请加入。亚
投行的初始资金规模为1000亿美元,大部分来自中国,预计该行将在今年年底前正式运行,为交通运输、水利以及能源等基础设施项目提供资金。

Going forward, the U.S. and Japan, which also has withheld support, may
well seek to save face and work with the bank. Such a move will be good
for all parties, but for the bank to be successful, leaders should bear a
few measures in mind:

今后,美国很可能得找机会与亚投行合作,挽回点颜面,跟美国一样未参与亚投行的日本也一样。若真能如此,将对各方都有利。然而,要想亚投行真正成功,领导人还应该考虑到以下几个问题:


With the bank’s focus on infrastructure development instead of on the
broader goal of poverty reduction, it is important that policies and
procedures be put in place to ensure that infrastructure investments do
not lead to the unintended impoverishment of thousands of people or
significant harm to the surrounding environment.

鉴于亚投行的重点是基础设施开发,而不是为了消除贫困这样更为宏远的目标,那么有一点很重要,就是相关政策和程序都要落实到位,确保基础设施投资不会导致大批民众突然陷入贫困,也要避免对周边环境造成严重污染。

Given their size and scope, major infrastructure projects such as
hydroelectric power plants and road networks can lead to forced
resettlement of communities and the loss of traditional livelihoods,
such as in agriculture and fishing. I saw this during my own visits to a
range of power and transport projects in my oversight role from early
2007 to the end of 2010 on the Board of Directors of the Asian
Development Bank.

亚投行的资金规模庞大,覆盖范围也很广,水电站和公路等大型基础设施项目可能迫使很多社区的原住民背井离乡,丧失务农、捕鱼等传统谋生手段。2007年初到2010年底,我在亚洲开发银行任职期间实地考察了一些电力和交通运输项目,就曾遇到过此类情况。


Strong social and environmental safeguards are needed to make sure
development projects are done in a sustainable manner. Views and input
from affected communities should be incorporated in a meaningful way
from the earliest stages of project design. Otherwise, poorly designed
projects can contribute to social and environmental harm, costs overruns
for borrowers and ultimately unrest and delayed or cancelled projects.

要确保项目的可持续开发,就需要采取强有力的社会保障措施和环境保护手段。设计项目早期就应该充分考虑当地相关社区的意见,而且应
有居民代表参与。否则,如果项目设计有问题,有可能给当地社会和环境造成危害,借款方的成本将超支,最终可能导致社会动荡、项目延误甚至取消。


The new bank should move quickly to prove skeptics wrong. It has the
chance, for example, to demonstrate that it can be more effective than
the World Bank and other regional development banks in financing
infrastructure while addressing legitimate community concerns about
relocation and compensation for any loss of housing or income.

亚投行应当迅速行动起来,证明怀疑论者的观点是错的。比如说,它可以用实际行动证明,在资助基础设施建设方面,亚投行的融资效率比世界银行和其他地区性开发银行更高;而在应付社区搬迁时提出的合理诉求、提供相应房屋或收入补偿方面,亚投行也有能力处置妥当。

Recently, the World Bank admitted to “serious shortcomings in the
implementation of its resettlement policies,” adding that it plans to
fix its problems with a “plan that will improve the oversight and
management of resettlement practices to ensure better protection of
people and businesses affected by bank-funded projects.”

最近,世界银行承认“在工程移民安置政策方面存在严重缺陷”,同时宣布将解决这个问题,具体途径是制定方案,改善移民安置过程中的监督和管理,确保受项目影响的民众和企业得到妥善安排。


The new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has the chance to develop
strong, new and effective accountability mechanisms all shareholders
would support. A strong independent evaluations department not beholden
to any single shareholder must be part of that. Mechanisms to review and
ensure compliance with the bank’s own rules are also critical.

新成立的亚投行还可以建立强有效的新型问责机制,并争取所有股东支持。要实现这样的机制,必须成立一个强势的独立评估部门,不能受任何一家股东牵制。另一点也很重要,就是建立相应内控制度,确保亚投行严格遵守内部章程。


As Summers noted, it is time for the US to wake up to a new economic
era. Strengthened engagement with Asia and all its major financial
institutions must be part of that.

正如萨默斯所说,美国应该清醒地认识到,新经济时代已经来临,应该积极参与亚洲事务,与亚洲所有重要的金融机构多打交道也是其中的一部分。

2016-06-23

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