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Japan to finance US$2.6b monorail in Panama
[PANAMA CITY] Japan on Wednesday agreed to finance a US$2.6 billion monorail Panama intends to have built by 2022 as an extension of its young metro system, the Panamanian government said.
"This financing Japan is giving us today is recognition of the solidity and credibility of Panama," a statement quoted President Juan Carlos Varela saying during a visit to Tokyo.
Mr Varela's government is fighting to save Panama's image as a budding global business hub after the so-called Panama Papers revelations that exposed how politicians, the wealthy and some criminals used its offshore expertise.
The Japanese credit for the monorail is a 20-year deal extended through the government-backed Japan Bank for International Cooperation.
A memorandum of understanding was signed in January and Varela's trip to Tokyo sealed the agreement with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The cost of the monorail project makes it the biggest in Panama after a massive expansion of its century-old canal, which is to be inaugurated in June after an investment of over US$5 billion.
The monorail will constitute a line three to Panama's new metro network, opening up a 26km run between the capital and Arraijan, a town in the west.
While Japan will stump up for the project, a public tender will go out to select the company or consortium to build the line.
"Our economy is based on solid fundamentals and we are showing that today," Mr Varela was quoted as saying.