Investment banks to put $10 billion into projects aimed at interconnecting South America

SAO PAULO (AP) — Four investment banks announced Thursday during a meeting of leaders of the Mercosur trade bloc that they will put $10 billion up for infrastructure works aimed at better connecting South America, including funds for port, airport, road, rail and power transmission projects.

The “Routes for South American Integration” initiative was launched in Rio de Janeiro with host Brazil introducing a plan involving more than 120 projects, many of them in Brazil's north bordering Venezuela, Guyana, French Guyana and Suriname.

The funds will come from the Inter-American Development Bank with $3.4 billion, the Development Bank of Latin American and the Caribbean with $3 billion, the Brazilian Development Bank with another $3 billion, and FONPLATA, a bank owned by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with $600 million more.

Aloizio Mercadante, the president of Brazil's Development Bank, said his institution will finance works “from the border within Brazil” and the other banks will pay for projects “from the border to the outside.”

“It is the biggest fund ever built for South American integration and for Mercosur in Mercosur's history,” Mercadante said.

Brazil’s Planning and Budget Ministry said in a statement the new infrastructure is aimed at “significantly reducing the time of transportation of merchandise between Brazil and Asia.”

Similar plans for South American integration failed in the last three decades, but Brazil’s Planning Minister Simone Tebet says it will be different this time.

“The regional integration project is finally mature enough to come true. That has happened after a lot of dialogue and many conversations between leaders,” Tebet said.

The integration plan includes five main projects.

The Guyana Islands route project will boost infrastructure in Brazil's northern states of Amapa and Roraima to better connect them to Guyana, French Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.

The Manta-Manaus route includes the Brazilian state of Amazonas and parts of the states of Roraima, Para and Amapa in a river link to Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.

The Rondon Quadrant route involves the Brazilian states of Acre and Rondonia and the soybean rich portion of the Mato Grosso state to connect it with Bolivia and Peru.

The Capricorn rout links the states of Mato Grosso do Sul, Parana and Santa Catarina through multiple pathways to Paraguay, Argentina and Chile.

And the Porto Alegre-Coquimbo route boosts connections between the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul to Argentina, Uruguay and Chile.

Mercosur has Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay as full members. Venezuela is currently suspended from the trade bloc. Bolivia is in a process to join it.

 

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