Leaders Agree To Invest A Further $600 Mln To Complete The South American Highway By 2009
December 17, 2007 - RTT News

LA PAZ -- A three nation South American summit has agreed on Monday to invest a further $600 million to complete the ambitious South American highway by 2009.

The presidents of Brazil, Bolivia and Chile have signed an agreement in the Bolivian city of La Paz that makes a highway connecting the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America a reality by 2009.

The highway, which runs through Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile, will cover a distance of 4,700 kilometers (2,900 miles) when finished. It will be a port-to-port highway, running from the port of Santos on Brazil's Atlantic coast, to Chile's Pacific ports of Iquique and Arica. Much of the route clearance is complete.

While Bolivian President Evo Morales hosted his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet, it was seen as a chance to improve strained ties between the neighboring nations since Bolivia lost its access to the sea in a 19th Century war with Chile.

Bolivia-Brazil relations weakened in 2006, when President Morales moved to nationalize his country's energy industry, where Brazil's state-run energy company Petrobras was holding large stakes. However, during his two-day visit, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is expected to announce a resumption of Brazilian investment in Bolivia amounting to $750 million.

The completed road is expected to boost trade, allowing greater access from Brazil to markets in the Asia-Pacific region. The economy of land-locked Bolivia is expected to benefit considerably from the improved road network.

Morales described the proposed highway as "a vein that allows us to unite peoples from Chile, Bolivia, and Brazil."