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AIIB membership means opportunity for Iceland: official

by Huang Xiaonan & Gudrun Helga Sigurdardottir

REYKJAVIK, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Being a prospective founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) means an opportunity for Iceland, a senior official of Iceland has said.

Gudmundur Arnason, Permanent Secretary of Iceland's Ministry of Economics and Finance, said Iceland could accumulate information and experiences by participating in huge infrastructure projects like the AIIB.

"By participating in those projects, we will learn how to create and finance huge projects like that. That's something new to us," Gudmundur Arnason said, when asked to comment on Iceland's successful winning the approval to become a prospective founding member of the AIIB.

China's Ministry of Finance confirmed on April 15 that Iceland, along with Sweden, Israel, South Africa, Azerbaijan, Portugal and Poland, had been approved as AIIB's founding members, bringing the total number of the bank's founding members to 57.

Iceland expects to participate in energy projects in Asia financed by the AIIB, said the Permanent Secretary, who is in charge of the operations of the Ministry of Finance and its chief representative after the Minister. Arnason noted that the energy projects could be both hydropower and geothermal projects.

"Icelandic companies could also give consulting services, both in general and in single projects," he added.

Iceland submitted a last-minute application to become one of AIIB's founding members on March 31.

The Icelandic government could further strengthen the good relations between Iceland and Asian countries as a member of the AIIB, according to an earlier statement issued by Iceland's Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs.

Gylfi Magnusson, former Icelandic Minister of Business Affairs and Associate Professor of the Business School of the University of Iceland, told Xinhua that the Icelandic government wanted to participate and give a moral support by becoming a founding member of the AIIB.

Icelandic companies could participate in projects financed by the AIIB in Asia. "Icelandic companies have competence and expertise on infrastructure in the field of geothermal energy production," he said.

Like many other European countries seeking to explore opportunities in the building up of the infrastructure in many poor parts of Asia, Iceland also wants to be a part of the process, which is why Iceland wants to become a founding member of the AIIB, according to Asgeir Brynjar Torfason, Assistant Professor of the Business School of the University of Iceland.

European countries expect to open up opportunities for their own companies in Asian projects, said Torfason.

As the economy will be growing fast in Asia in the coming years and decades, Arnason believes AIIB will play an important role in infrastructure development in Asia in the future.

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