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EIB offers Panama 500-mln-euro loan for canal expansion
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11:22, August 04, 2007

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The European Investment Bank (EIB) will offer Panama 500 million euros (650 million U.S. dollars) to finance the expansion of the Panama Canal, an European Commission official announced on Friday.

The proposal was made during a technical evaluation of diverse cooperation projects between the European Union (EU) and Panama, said Tomas Abadia, EU business manager for Panama and Costa Rica.

"The financial proposal was advanced by Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and it includes very low interest rates at very long terms," Abadia said.

Local media reports said EIB representatives are in contact with the Panama Canal Authority.

Panama is aiming to build a third lane of locks to increase the canal's capacity and allow larger ships to travel between the Pacific and the Caribbean. Panama expects the tolls revenue in 2008 to increase by some 340 million dollars compared with this year.

The expansion of the inter-oceanic route will approximately cost 5.25 billion dollars with 75-percent self-financed by Panama.

Expansion of the canal, which carries about 4 percent of world trade, will double the 80-km waterway's capacity.

The canal, which was opened in 1914 and generated 1.4 billion dollars in revenues last year, was built by the United States and handed over to Panama in 1999.

Source: Xinhua

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