LAST WEEK, The US criticized the British government for its “constant accommodation” of China, the latest example of which would be the UK’s decision to become a founding member of a regional initiative announced last year in Beijing to create an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Other than worries about British accommodation of China expressed to the Financial Times by “a senior US official”, an official statement from the White House expressed these concerns:
“We believe any new multilateral institution should incorporate the high standards of the World Bank and the regional development banks… Based on many discussions, we have concerns about whether the AIIB will meet these high standards, particularly related to governance, and environmental and social safeguards… The international community has a stake in seeing the AIIB complement the existing architecture, and to work effectively alongside the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.”
It should be noted, however, that the Asian Development Bank is not among the regional banks that have adopted a full-fledged labour safeguard requiring compliance with the ILO’s core labour standards. Only the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the African Development Bank have done that.
The World Bank, which is currently revising its social and environmental safeguards policies, has been heavily criticized by trade unions and CSOs for not requiring full compliance with CLS in the first draft of its new policy and for excluding most workers by exempting contractors. The policy is currently being redrafted and will be made public later this year.
An article in the Guardian (worth looking at for the photo alone) is available here:
More coverage and comment is in the Financial Times:
“US attacks UK’s ‘constant accommodation’ with China”
THIS WEEK, the governments of three additional European countries – France, Germany and Italy – have stated that they will join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in spite of US lobbying for its allies not the join the Chinese-led initiative. The UK announced its intention to join the AIIB last week.
The three EU countries issued a joint communiqué in which they state that they are “keen to work with the AIIB founding members to establish an institution that follows the best standards and practices in terms of governance, safeguards, debt and procurement policies”.
It may be noted that France, Germany and Italy have strongly supported the adoption of a comprehensive labour standards safeguard by the World Bank as advocated by the ITUC and Global Unions, and have voiced agreement with the ITUC’s critique of the weak draft labour safeguard currently under consideration by the World Bank, as has the UK. They also supported the adoption of comprehensive labour safeguards by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the African Development Bank, which took place in 2008 and 2013 respectively.
A key feature of these safeguards is the requirement that bank-funded activities must comply with the ILO’s core labour standards. One hopes that these governments will show consistency and demand the adoption of similar protections for workers in projects financed by the AIIB.
A detailed article on the European countries’ stance vis-à-vis the new AIIB is in today’s New York Times:
ITUC/Global Unions – Washington Office
888 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: (202) 974-8120