Underlying Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s visit to Peru, Thursday, September 8, for the inauguration of work on the Interoceanic Highway, is the South American Region Infrastructural Integration Initiative (IIRSA) which was drawn up in 2000 with the objective of harmonizing continental policy in transportation, energy and telecommunications.
At the moment, the IIRSA has a total of 32 “strategic” action plans underway for the 2005-2010 period at an estimated cost of US$ 5.2 billion. Most of the action plans are part of an agenda established last year at the III South American Presidential Summit.
One idea is to make it possible, in the near future, to make a cell phone call from anywhere in the 12 countries of South America without paying extra fees. All this would require is a uniform fee scale – the infrastructure is already in place.
Another idea is to facilitate exports by mail. That would reduce customs red tape and boost the participation of small businesses.
In energy, financing for a gas pipeline running from Bolivia to Buenos Aires is being negotiated. Its cost is estimated at US$ 1 billion.