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Ecuador inaugurates first bridge built by a Chinese firm with IDB financing

Ecuador’s Segmental Bridge, the country’s longest, was inaugurated today, marking the completion of the first project built by a Chinese company that is financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The nearly two-kilometer-long bridge crosses the Babahoyo River in Durán, Guayas province. It was planned by Ecuador’s Ministry of Transport and Public Works of Ecuador and built by the Chinese company Gaungxi Road & Bridge Engineering Corporation.

"The Segmental Bridge is a key public work venture that will improve access between Guayaquil, La Puntilla, Durán and other cities in Ecuador," said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. "The bridge symbolizes the increasingly close ties between China and Latin America and the Caribbean."

"Competing in a globalized world requires a modern and efficient infrastructure,” he added, “and Chinese companies have much experience to offer in this regard."

The bridge is 1,975 meters long and 20.8 meters wide. Its four lanes are designed to accommodate 70,000 light and heavy vehicles daily. The bridge also has a bike lane, a sidewalk, and two accesses.

The new bridge will reduce travel times and improve the transportation flow between the highly productive areas of the Ecuadorian coast and the country’s major market centers and neighboring countries. Use of the new bridge could cut transport costs by 25 percent and increase speeds by 50 percent.

The IDB provided financing for $101.4 million as part of a loan for $350 million for the First Road Maintenance and Infrastructure Program signed by the Ecuadorian Government in February 2010. The program is included in the CCLIP Line of Financing for $1 billion approved by the IDB's Board to Ecuador in October 2009.

The IDB’s portfolio of operations for Ecuador, including those approved and those under execution, total $1.9 billion. Of this, $1.6 billion is directed to the public sector, $289 million to the private sector (large companies and banks), $18 million for projects financed by the Multilateral Investment Fund, and more than $2 million for social entrepreneurship projects. By the end of 2011, approvals of additional credits for the public and private sectors are expected to add an additional $700 million.

Projects include the strengthening of public education, the modernization of the civil registry, the construction of a new airport in Quito, improved rural land titling, increased power transmission capacity, and support for small fishing operations, among others.

China became an IDB member country in 2009. China and the Bank have a number of cooperation agreements to promote bilateral investment and trade between that country and Latin America and the Caribbean, including a recent agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China and another with the Bank of China to facilitate the use of the renminbi currency to finance trade between the two regions.

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