Chinese-funded port expansion in Brazil to benefit both countries

World Today

China’s hunger for commodities,  like grains and iron ore from Brazil, seems endless, and shipping them halfway around the globe is a task that demands sophisticated infrastructure and enormous investment.

In São Luis, the capital of the Brazilian northeastern state of Maranhão, a new port is under construction as part of China’s Belt and Road initiative.

CGTN’s Paulo Cabral has details.

It’s an investment of almost $500 million, from a consortium led by Chinese construction company CCCC. The plan is to have it operational in the next three years. The port will have a bridge that runs one kilometer into the sea, so up to three ships at a time can dock in water at least 20 meters deep. The port’s CEO, Cesar Gazoni, says this is a prime location for China’s logistical needs.

“This is the northern Arch of Brazil.  From here, you are very close to the Panama Canal, you are very close to the east coast of the United States, close to Europe, Gazoni said. “Via the Panama Canal, it’s also close to reach China.”

The port of São Luis is the most advanced Chinese infrastructure investment planned for Brazil’s northeast, the poorest region of the country. The vice governor of the state of Maranhão,  Carlos Brandão, says the region is eager for more Chinese investment.

The Chinese have what we need. They have resources, technology and are interested in expanding their business around the world, Brandão said.  “I think this is good for everybody. For us, this is important as it creates jobs, increases wages and improves people’s quality of life.”

 However, big infrastructure projects often cause local disruptions. In the case of the Port of São Luis, the company and the state are still dealing with a traditional community, the Cajueiros, who  have been resisting eviction.

“It’s annoying for us. We don’t really know what is going to happen to us. I live in a very small house. I wanted to improve it but I don’t do anything as I am afraid of being evicted, says fisherman Jose Ribamar.

In the Port of São Luis, construction work is picking-up speed and in a few years ships will be docking and taking Brazilian products to China and the rest the world, while bringing in the imports the country needs.