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China Wants to Build Railway that Runs Through Brazil

11/27/2017 - 11h45

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JULIO WIZIACK
FROM BRASÍLIA

The China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), which is one of the biggest railway companies in the world, is considering the possibility of heading a consortium that would build the East-West Integration Railway (Fiol), connecting it to the port of Ilhéus (Bahia). Only a short stretch of the railway is currently operating.

China's intentions are clear: it wants to direct soybeans - which, of the products it imports from Brazil, is only behind iron ore - from the midwest of Brazil to the port in Bahia.

But there are geopolitical factors at play as well. China would like to establish alternatives to the Panama Canal, which was financed by the US in the 20th century, and is perceived by the Asian country as being controlled by the United States.

Fiol, which would be one alternative to the canal, would consist of 1,500 kilometers and would cross paths with the North-South Railway (FNS).

Soybeans are currently transported via truck to the port in Santos (São Paulo), or to one of the North-South Railway junctions, en route to the port of Itaqui, in the state of Maranhão. However, there are several issues concerning passage in the stretch that is controlled by mining company Vale. The stretch in question is the only one that grants access to the port in the northeast of Brazil.

China is also considering a second railway that would part from the North-South Railway, passing through the cities of Campinorte (Goiás), Lucas do Rio Verde (Mato Grosso), and then on to Porto Velho (Rondônia). The railway would then continue on to Peru, to a port on the Pacific coast.

The CRCC presented the project to representatives of the Brazilian government during president Michel Temer's state visit to China, back in late August.

Marcelo Justo/Folhapress
China's intentions are clear: it wants to direct soybeans - which, of the products it imports from Brazil, is only behind iron ore - from the midwest of Brazil to the port in Bahia
China's intentions are clear: it wants to direct soybeans - which, of the products it imports from Brazil, is only behind iron ore - from the midwest of Brazil to the port in Bahia

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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