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China, Brazil, Peru Eye Transcontinental Railway Megaproject
   2015-05-23 19:53:39    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Wang Wei

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China and Peru have agreed to study the feasibility of a transcontinental railroad that will connect Peru's Pacific coast with Brazil's Atlantic coast. The agreement comes as the Asian giant looks increasingly to Latin America to feed China's hunger for commodities.

CRI's Poornima Weerasekara reports.

 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang signed a raft of agreements in Peru on Friday, covering investment, education and hydropower. He was in Lima on the third leg of his Latin American tour.

But the most ambitious project on the agenda focused on building a transcontinental railroad between Brazil and Peru that could make it faster and cheaper to transport commodities from Latin America to China.

Premier Li has already signed an agreement with both Peru and Brazil to conduct a feasibility study on the project.

Li Keqiang says the rail-link is win-win for all sides.

"I hope this agreement will continue to bear fruit. We have maintained a conversation on a cross-continental railroad and we witnessed the signing of a memorandum for this project. During my tour in Brazil, I also signed a memorandum of this kind, for the construction of a bi-oceanic rail link that will further expand South America's connectivity, especially between the countries bordering the Pacific with Asia, strengthening trade contacts between the two sides."

The proposed rail link, known as the "Twin Ocean Railroad", would connect Porto do A?u, a Brazilian Atlantic port, with Peru's Puerto Ilo on the Pacific Ocean along 3,300 miles of rail.

The project has an estimated cost of 10 billion US dollars and would take six years to complete.

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala says the project could be a major boost to Latin America's sluggish economies.

"This project consolidates Peru's political position as a natural gateway to the South American region (for China). This is an ambitious project that we're moving forward with and we're moving forward in a responsible way. Furthermore, we're taking concrete steps towards this project which is long-term and a multi-million dollar project that could consolidate and develop the local economies of Brazil, China and Peru."

China is a major trading partner for both Brazil and Peru. Brazil is a top exporter of iron ore and soybeans to China, while the biggest share of Peruvian exports - primarily minerals like gold and copper - also go to the Chinese market.

In January, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $250 billion in investment in Latin America over the next 10 years as part of a drive to boost China's influence in a region long dominated by the United States.

Li will next head to Chile on the final leg of his Latin America tour.

For CRI I'm Poornima Weerasekara.

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