MERIDA, Yucatán – IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno urged leaders of the Mesoamerican countries to give priority to the implementation of the Pacific Integration Corridor, the shortest route between Puebla, Mexico, and Panama that carries 95 percent of the region’s land freight.
"This is the largest regional trade and transport project being carried out in Mesoamerica, and it will have a major impact on that region’s development and integration,” said Moreno. “In addition to infrastructure, the project includes optimization of border crossings, a critical factor in facilitating commerce,” he added.
The project represents an investment of some $2,256 million for the improvement, maintenance, and operation of approximately 2,213 kilometers of highways as well as measures to raise road safety standards on a total 3,241 kilometers of the highways in the system. The project includes infrastructure works, reform of customs procedures, and trade facilitation measures at the six border crossings.
Agreement was reached at the summit to create a management unit for the corridor with a secretariat coordinated by the IDB. President Moreno reiterated the Bank’s support for providing technical assistance and financial resources needed to implement the project. He also stressed that the project is economically feasible in terms of public-private financing.
It is expected that the Pacific Corridor will shorten the travel distance by some 200 kilometers by reducing the average altitude above sea level; increasing the average speed from 17 km/hour to 60km/hour; reducing travel time from the present 190 hours to 54 hours; and significantly cutting transportation costs.
In addition, the leaders were informed on progress of the Central American Electrical Interconnection System (SIEPAC) and its extension to Mexico and Colombia. SIEPAC is in the final construction stage with 90 percent of the power lines built awaiting to be placed in commercial operation once the regulations of the Regional Electricity Market take effect.
Other topics discussed at the summit included the implementation of the Mesoamerican Territorial Information System, an integrated regional data platform for improving disaster risk management. In the social area, a review was carried out of progress achieved by the Mesoamerican Health Initiative 2015, a major public-private partnership to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in the most vulnerable population.
Attending the summit were presidents Álvaro Colom, of Guatemala; José Porfirio Lobo, of Honduras; Felipe Calderón, of Mexico; Daniel Ortega, of Nicaragua; Ricardo Martinelli, of Panama, Leonel Fernández, of the Dominican Republic; and Sebastián Piñera, of Chile, who attended as an observer.
The summit marks the 20th anniversary of the Tuxtla Mechanism, which seeks to deepen the dialogue and the integration among Belize, Costa Rica, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Dominican Republic.
- Ángela Fúnez