On the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai, government leaders of the United Arab Emirates, Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina and Chile met yesterday and signed a cooperation agreement to complete the construction of a 2,200 km bi-oceanic corridor connecting Brazil’s port of Santos via highway with Chile’s Pacific ports of Iquique and Arica. The route extends from Brazil through western Paraguay, northern Argentina to Chile, MercoPress reported today.
This project is not new—it’s been underway since 2015, led by Paraguay. It does not include Bolivia, despite the June 2022 invitation to Bolivia’s President Luis Arce by then-Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez to participate in this project which Arce warmly welcomed at the time. For many years, former President Evo Morales aggressively promoted the alternative bi-oceanic rail corridor from Brazil to Chile, which would traverse Bolivia and in which all the region’s neighboring countries would participate. It’s not clear what the status of that project is at present.
The new element here is the U.A.E.’s involvement. In Dubai, in the presence of U.A.E. President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahayan, Brazilian President Lula da Silva and Paraguayan President Santiago Pena, foreign ministers of Brazil, the U.A.E., Chile, Paraguay, Argentina’s ambassador to the U.A.E., and the U.A.E.’s Investment Minister signed the “Joint Declaration on Cooperation Related to the Bi-oceanic Corridor.” They agreed to “deepen social, trade and investment relations” and “work jointly in cooperation with the private sectors to accelerate economic activity in the interest of the parties and seek opportunities in the bi-oceanic corridor.”
Last month, Chile’s leftist President Gabriel Boric met with right-wing Paraguayan President Santiago Peña during which they emphasized the importance of the project and the need to “have a common voice” above political ideologies. The proposed highway, which has a completion date of 2025—sections of it are already built—would pass through the northern Argentine provinces of Salta and Jujuy; Brazil’s Mato Grosso do Sul, a major food producer and exporter; Antofagasta and Tarapacá in Chile; as well as Paraguay’s Gran Chaco. As part of this project, Paraguay plans to transform its western region into a major international logistics hub.