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Xi visits Costa Rica, agree on $2 billion in projects

Update: June, 04/2013 - 11:33

SAN JOSE – Chinese President Xi Jinping has led a major trade foray into Costa Rica with agreements on projects worth nearly US$2 billion, including upgrades of an oil refinery, a key highway and public transport.

Costa Rica, the only Central American country that has diplomatic relations with China, was Xi's second stop on a quick swing through the region before an informal summit with US President Barack Obama in California on Friday.

The biggest project will be the modernisation of an obsolete oil refinery in the Caribbean port El Limon, which will be replaced with a new refinery capable of processing 65,000 barrels of oil a day.

The $1.5 billion venture will be financed with a $900-million credit from the China Development Bank, and the remaining $600 million will be put up by the China National Petroleum Corporation and the Refinadora Costaricense de Petroleo (RECOPE).

Another big project agreed to is the upgrading of Route 32, a strategic highway that links San Jose to El Limon, a $400-million endeavor that will be financed by China.

The bilateral agreements include health protocols that will allow Costa Rica to export pork and dairy products to China.

China will also open lines of credit to Costa Rica for the purchase of 50,000 solar panels and to speed up the conversion of the country's public transport fleet to more environmentally friendly systems, Chinchilla said.

Xi also formalised the delivery of 8,400 computers to public school students and another 800 for teachers, under an agreement signed during a visit Chinchilla made to Beijing last year.AFP

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