April 2, 2015 / 2:15 AM / 4 years ago

Portugal applies to join China-backed AIIB investment bank

China's President Xi Jinping (front C) poses for photos with guests at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank launch ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing October 24, 2014. REUTERS/Takaki Yajima

LISBON/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Portugal has applied to be a founding member of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), with the aim of promoting its business interests in Asia, the government said on Thursday.

More than 40 countries have applied to join the AIIB, with the United States and Japan as notable absentees.

“Portugal’s participation would create better conditions for Portuguese companies taking part in projects in the Asian region, where the country has been intensifying its economic and trade relationships,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It said it had applied for membership on March 31, the deadline for applications.

Portugal has historic cultural and trade links with its former colonies in India’s Goa, China’s Macau and East Timor.

After higher exports helped the economy climb out of a deep recession last year, Lisbon has said it aims to further boost exports as a share of gross domestic product.

The AIIB is seen as a potential rival to established lenders the World Bank and Asian Investment Bank, which are dominated by the United States and Japan.

Portugal, Iceland, Hungary and Israel are among recent applicants for AIIB membership, while Britain, Germany, Russia, Australia and Brazil have all said they intend to join.

Reporting by Andrei Khalip in Lisbon and Sue-Lin Wong in Shanghai; Editing by Catherine Evans

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