El Salvador plans to build port to boost exports – in Guatemala

Billed as a show of "Central American integration", the President of El Salvador has said he will accept the offer by Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei to let El Salvador build an Atlantic seaport in his country.

El Salvador has no Atlantic coast, but Guatemala does.

Speaking at a news conference in the Salvadorian capital of San Salvador, Giammattei said: "We have offered El Salvador something unprecedented in the history of Central American integration, and today I want to announce it publicly because we are going to explore, as soon as possible."

Giammattei, who won a presidential election in August last year, said the governments would develop a legal framework that would allow El Salvador to build its port using a public-private partnership model.

Nayib Bukel, the president of El Salvador, said his government planned to take advantage of the offer to invest in hotels and logistical infrastructure on the Atlantic. He said: "This is something historic. I can’t remember anything this great happening as far as Central American unity is concerned."

Javier Steiner, president of El Salvador’s Chamber of Commerce told the BBC World Service: "Almost half of our exports go to the US. Normal practice is to load them to an Atlantic port in Guatemala or Honduras. For us it is very important to have an easy way out for exports to the US."

The presidents added that they were hoping to achieve the free movement of people across borders, harmonise customs and coordinate security.

Giammattei, head of the right-wing Vamos party, took office on January after pledging to back the death penalty, "crush violent gangs", fight poverty and end corruption.

Image: Giammattei, left, with Bukel (Casa Presidencial)  

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