Country gets more time from China to evaluate refinery and road projects

China has accepted a pair of requests from President Luis Guillermo Solís concerning contracts for the improvements of Ruta 32 and the construction of the petroleum refinery in Moín. Costa Rica now has five months to reevaluate the plans to widen Ruta 32 and will be able to renegotiate the Moín deal in order to correct some inconsistencies in the contract.

Solís met with China President Xi Jinping last week in Brazil to not only receive his approval of these project adjustments but also to strengthen the diplomatic bond between the two countries.

“China’s acceptance confirms the fraternal relationship and the understanding of the Chinese government with respect to the Costa Rican government’s worries,” Solís said. “It marks a turning point in this strategic bond and offers our country expected boosts in development over the next few years.”

The $465 million project would widen the highway to four lanes from Limón to Río Frio. Solís said he requested the extension so that his staff could look more closely at the deal and its long-term implications.

Xi also promised that the Chinese government will take a more hands-on role with the Moín refinery and further negotiations will be directly through the two governments and not the China National Petroleum Corp., the state-owned company contracted to build the oil installation, Casa Presidencial reported.

Last year Costa Rica’s watchdog agency, the Contraloría General de la República, said there were deficiencies evident in a feasibility study done for the oil refinery. It found that the Chinese petroleum firm was closely related to the firm that conducted the study, which is a conflict of interest that violates Costa Rican law.

Xi said that he wants to encourage his country’s companies to undertake projects all around the world, as long as they are working within the framework of the host’s laws.

By the end of their meeting, Solís accepted Xi’s invitation to visit Beijing at the beginning of 2015. The two presidents are expected to discuss further projects between the two nations.

The forum was officially agreed upon by regional heads of state and Xi during his recent trip to Brazil.

The session was of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which was created in 2011 as a regional body that denounces imperialism and doesn’t include the United States or Canada.

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