LIMA, Sept 15 A more than 3,000-mile-long
railway proposed by China to bridge Atlantic and Pacific ports
in South America would cost $60 billion, Peru said on Thursday,
further dampening prospects of the project coming to fruition.
Last year, China and Peru agreed to study the feasibility of
the railway that would cross the Amazon and Andes to slash the
cost of shipping Latin American goods to Asia.
But on a visit to China, Peru's Vice President and
Transportation Minister Martin Vizcarra told Peruvian
broadcaster RPP that the preliminary estimate by Chinese
officials took the delegation from Lima by surprise.
Earlier in the visit, Peru President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
told RPP he discouraged the railway when he met Beijing
officials, saying it could be too expensive and environmentally
harmful to build.
Vizcarra said $35 billion would be needed for the Peruvian
portion of the project and $25 billion for the Brazilian leg.
"With that money, $35 billion, we could build a lot of
projects to benefit Peruvians," Vizcarra said on RPP.
If built at $60 billion, the railway would be one of the
most expensive infrastructure projects in the world, surpassing
even China's Three Gorges Dam that cost $59 billion.
China is Peru's biggest trade partner and a major export
destination for Latin American commodities, from Chilean copper
to Brazilian soybeans.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, following his visit with
Kuczynski on Wednesday, said both countries should move forward
with the proposed railway project to facilitate trade and
investments, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
Vizcarra said Peru supports a more detailed study on demand,
costs, and benefits. In the meantime, Peruvian officials have
asked China to consider investing in a commuter train on Peru's
coast that would cost a fraction of the transcontinental
Kuczynski, four ministers and more than a dozen Peruvian
business leaders traveled to China this week to seek investments
in refineries, ports and infrastructure projects.
Kuczynski, a 77-year-old former Wall Street banker, chose
China as his first foreign destination as president shortly
after winning the presidential election in June.
(Reporting By Mitra Taj; editing by Grant McCool)