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China Daily Website  

China-backed rail project part of Brazil's infrastructure program

Updated: 2015-06-10 13:52

BRASILIA -- A China-backed transcontinental train project which fits into the latest phase of a Brazilian national infrastructure program was unveiled Tuesday.

At an official ceremony, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff presented her government's Logistics Investment Program, an updated version of a plan launched in 2012 to spur economic growth and boost connectivity.

"Over the coming years, Brazil's transport sector will see an investment of some 198.4 billion reals ($64 billion) to modernize the country's airports, highways, trains and ports," the official government website reported.

In her speech Tuesday, Rousseff highlighted the importance of the proposed transcontinental train to improve Brazil's trade prospects.

"By linking the Atlantic to the Pacific, Brazil gains special access to the Asian markets, and given international trade transactions, that represents something extremely strategic," said Rousseff.

"The expansion of Brazil's rail network is essential to becoming more efficient and relieving the burden of cargo transport by land," she added.

She also highlighted China's vast experience in rail building, saying it is something Brazil lacks, since it has undertaken few rail projects in the past 30 years.

Brazil's railway networks, meanwhile, which are mainly in the south, southeast and northeast of the country, account for only 24 percent of the total capacity of the nation's current transportation system. About 35 percent of the railway system was built 60 years ago.

The train linking Brazil's Atlantic coast with Peru's Pacific coast would go across the agricultural heartland of Mato Grosso State, State of Para rich in mining resources, and create a South American trade corridor that would make it easier for Brazil, China's main trading partner in Latin America, to export products to China, without having to go through the Panama Canal to the north.

According to the investment program, the total investment in rails amounts to 86.4 billion reals ($27.8 million).

The coast-to-coast train was one of the main cooperation projects between China and Latin America promoted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during his four-nation tour of South America in May, which included Peru, the Pacific terminal of the proposed railway.

A joint feasibility study on the proposed train is expected to be ready by May 2016 and environment protection will be considered as a priority.

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