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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Correa offers Manta airport concession to China - Ecuador

Business News Americas, November 23, 2007

During his state trip to China, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa offered the Asian country the concession of the Manta airport base, the presidential website reported.

The air base is being used by the US armed forces for military operations, but their contract for the base will conclude in 2009, and Correa will not renew it, a transport and public works ministry (MTOP) communications official told BNamericas.

The initiative is part of the country's efforts to have Manta become the "doorway" for China to Latin America, said Correa.

The air base functions in one building, but shares the airport runway with the city's Eloy Alfaro international airport terminal, which operates in a separate building, the MTOP official said.

The airbase would handle air cargo, while the international airport terminal serving passengers will be offered under concession to a different firm, the official added.


During his presidential campaign, Correa stressed the need to attract Asian investment into the country, in order to improve infrastructure facilities and optimize international trade, thereby attracting regional trade operators.

Correa also spoke of the need to improve regional connectivity and be able to compete directly with ports from Peru, Colombia, and northern Chile.

The firm Terminales del Ecuador, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Hutchison Port Holdings, was already awarded the concession of the Manta port, and government officials have already spoken of additional Chinese investments for further projects such as a rail system.

Ecuador and Brazil signed an agreement in August for the construction of the Manta-Manaus highway corridor to link the two countries, and some Chinese companies have also expressed interest in taking part in this initiative, said the official, adding that Correa and his committee also met with them to discuss some of the project's details.

Correa is seeking to improve road connectivity to neighboring countries such as Colombia, Peru and Brazil. Some of these roads would also connect to waterways linking Ecuador and Brazil.

The corridor project is part of the South American regional infrastructure integration initiative, IIRSA.

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