Panama studies building train to Costa Rica with China

Slideshow ( 3 images )

LIMA (Reuters) - Panama is considering building a passenger train to Costa Rica with China, a project that would require an initial investment of $5 billion, Panama’s President told Reuters in an interview, a sign of the Asian country’s growing interest in Latin America.

President Juan Carlos Varela said Panama is promoting infrastructure investment in general and will also auction off a third metro line, with an expected $4 billion investment requirement.

China has become more involved in Latin America as the United States, under President Donald Trump, has taken a more protectionist stance on trade.

“We are doing with China a feasibility study of a 450-kilometer train between Panama and the border of Costa Rica,” Varela said on the sidelines of the Americas Summit in Lima on Friday evening.

Varela also said he expected a $6 billion copper mine under construction by Australia's First Quantum Minerals FM.TO to start producing next year, adding 2.5 percent to Panama's gross domestic product.

In reference to the U.S.-China trade dispute, Varela said if any country wanted to renegotiate trade agreements, it should do so without generating conflict. Panama welcomed investment from all countries, he said.

Writing by Caroline Stauffer