Amazon road set to give Brazil and Peru new trade route

January 29th, 2011

By Dan Collyns for the BBC

What better way to celebrate the opening of a road than by racing cars on it?

Around 30 Peruvian and Brazilian rally car drivers did exactly that to mark a new stretch of a road that connects their nations.

The two countries have historically had their figurative backs to one another with their shared border running through the Amazon rainforest, but are now trying to forge stronger links.

Setting off from Nazca, in Peru’s coastal desert on 19 January, the drivers traversed the Andes cordillera to Cusco, rising to 4,725m (15,500ft) above sea level.

They then descended into the Amazon rainforest of Madre de Dios, the frontier region that borders Brazil and Bolivia.

Strategic location

The race over some 2,200km (1,367 miles) involved a brief break to cross a river by ferry as a key bridge is still not finished. Competitors then continued on to Inapari on the border, reached first by Peruvian professional rally car driver Nicolas Fuchs.

Vehicle registration problems meant most of the drivers could not cross into Brazil to complete the last 200km or so to Rio Branco, capital of Acre state.

Bureaucratic problems aside, the dramatic route was the main challenge.

“The road doesn’t just have curves, it has big drops, places where if you make a mistake, you die,” said Luiz Facco, a Brazilian driver who raced alongside wife and co-driver Cristina, told the BBC in Cusco’s main square.

Apart from being a symbol of South American integration, the road links will also boost – potentially hugely – trade with Asia.

China has already replaced the US as Brazil’s number one trading partner. With this road, Brazil will eventually have paved access to five Pacific-facing Peruvian ports.

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