Tuesday, December 4th 2007 - 20:00 UTC

South America ready to launch two major regional projects

Two major regional projects are scheduled to be launched on the second week of December in South America, designed to boost economic integration. Chile, Bolivia and Brazil will formally announce the start of construction work on the bi-oceanic corridor linking the three nations on December 11.

Two days prior the Bank of the South will open in Argentina with the purpose of financing development requirements of South American nations. The bi-oceanic venture will bring together the presidents of three countries in La Paz, Bolivia to finally launch the three-nation link after a decade of discussions. The presidents are Chile's Michelle Bachelet, Brazil's Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and Bolivia's Evo Morales. The 2.600 kilometre corridor will be funded by public and private sectors of the three nations. Chile provided 50 million US dollars in seed money for the conditioning of existing highways and railways. The corridor will be used as a two ways highway for regional exports to Asia, Europe and the rest of the continent. Brazil will have a direct option to the Pacific and similarly, but to the Atlantic, Chile and Bolivia. In spite of the ongoing political problems in Bolivia, Chile's Foreign Relations Ministry confirmed the December 11 launching ceremony. On December 9 the Bank of the South will be officially launched in Buenos Aires. Although originally scheduled for last June the date was postponed several times on differences over shares and participation percentages. The brainchild of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, the South bank should help finance development and infrastructure projects as an alternative to the classic multilateral organizations such as the World Bank or the Inter American Development bank. Most South American countries have joined the project with the exception of Chile and Peru. The bank will have its main offices in Caracas and and La Paz. The bank launch will be followed on December 10 by the taking office ceremony of Argentina's elected president Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, wife of current leader Nestor Kirchner. Seven presidents have confirmed their assistance to the bank's official launching: Argentina'a outgoing Nestor Kirchner; Venezuela's Hugo Chávez; de Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva; Ecuador's, Rafael Correa; Bolivia's Evo Morales; Uruguay's Tabaré Vázquez and Paraguay's Nicanor Duarte Frutos. The initial capital was agreed in seven billion US dollars but contribution of each country member still has to be decided. The board of directors will be made up of Finance and Economy ministers from member countries. However differences remain regarding contributions: one group believes they should be equal and another which would like to see them proportional. But voting rights in the board will be equal for all country members.

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