Chinese Rail In South America

As the US struggles with infrastructure, China moves to build a brand new railway across South America. We’ll get the story.

Railways in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Diego Torres Silvestre / Flickr)

Amtrak went off the rails in Philadelphia, but in South America the talk is of brand new railroads. And the building has nothing to do with the USA.  It’s all about China. Talk about contrasts. While Washington is cutting Amtrak funding and cleaning up the wreck in Philly, China is moving to build a brand spanking new high-speed trans-continental railway from Atlantic to Pacific. Brazil to Peru. Over the Andes. Investing billions as part of a quarter-trillion dollar Chinese investment in Latin America. This hour on On Point: As the US struggles with infrastructure, China builds big south of the border.

— Tom Ashbrook


Kevin Gallagher, Associate Professor of Global Development Policy at Boston University. Author of the forthcoming book “The China Triangle: Latin America’s China Boom and the Fate of the Washington Consensus” (@KevinPGallagher)

Louis Thompson, Transportation consultant for rail industries worldwide. Railway adviser to the World Bank from 1987 to 2003.

Anthony Perl, Professor of Urban Studies and Political Science at Simon Fraser University.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: Beijing to Unveil South America Investments – “Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is set to bring greater financial support to South America this week, part of Beijing’s broader effort to reassure developing countries that have been hit by China’s declining demand for raw materials. On Tuesday, Mr. Li is expected to discuss with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff plans to build a giant railway, corporate acquisitions and the disbursement of billions of dollars for the overhaul of Brazil’s aging infrastructure as South America’s largest economy gears up for the Rio Olympics next year.”

Bloomberg: Planes, Trains & Copper: China’s Premier Goes to Latin America – From 2009 to 2014, China’s demand for raw materials resulted in a trade deficit with Brazil, a leading supplier of iron ore and soybeans, and Chile and Peru, both major copper producers. Since the fourth quarter of last year, the balance swung to China’s favor, according to figures from Brazil’s government. China MAY buy more airplanes from Brazil, home to Embraer SA. China has already imported more than 100 aircraft from Brazil, according to Tong Daochi, assistant director-general of the Commerce Ministry.”

Latin Times: South America News: Peru, Brazil, China Roll Ahead With Transcontinental Railway – “Peru, Brazil and China are moving forward on a transcontinental railway that will cut across the Andes and connect port cities in the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of South America, Folhia reports. The agreement was announced during a four-country Latin American tour by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. The mega rail project will cost an estimated $10 billion dollars. Technical studies are now underway and specific timelines are expected to be revealed in the coming months. The railway is expected to reduce the cost of exporting agricultural goods from Brazil to China, and bring new business to Peruvian ports.”


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