China and Peru agree to study transcontinental rail link

By Reuters

May 24, 2015 05:49 AM EDT

China and Peru have agreed to study the feasibility of a controversial 5,300 km (3,300 miles) transcontinental railroad that will connect Peru's Pacific coast with Brazil's Atlantic coast, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The agreement came as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Peru, on the third leg of a Latin America visit. This week, Brazil and China agreed on a feasibility study for the rail link.

In talks with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on Friday, Li called for cooperation in the oil, clean energy, mining, agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors, the news agency said.

Li also said the two governments should cooperate on financial issues, including a method to carry out trade settlement in local currencies, and a currency swap scheme.

The proposed transcontinental railway would span the Andes to the Pacific and reduce the cost of shipping grain and minerals to Asia.

China and Latin America would each benefit from the project by upgrading infrastructure, while allowing China to export its "industrial capacity" and investment, Xinhua said.

Humala said China's participation in the project was "indispensable", the news agency reported.

Outside the rail scheme study, the two governments on Friday also signed cooperation agreements on industrial capacity, energy, mining, infrastructure, quarantine, healthcare and aerospace.

In January, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $250 billion in investment in Latin America over the next 10 years as part of a drive to boost resource-hungry China's influence in a region long dominated by the United States.

Li oversaw a raft of agreements during his visit to Brazil this week, ranging from a $1 billion purchase of passenger jets made by Brazil's Embraer to the lifting of an export ban on Brazilian beef.

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