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News 01 Oct 13

Macedonia Taps Chinese Loan For Motorways

Macedonia plans to use an important Chinese loan to construct two stretches of motorway that will significantly improve the country's transport infrastructure.

BIRN
Skopje

Photo by: build.mk

After confirming that the Chinese Export-Import Bank has recently granted Macedonia a credit worth 574 million euros, the authorities have announced the start of construction for the first half of 2014, once parliament approves the loan.

The first 50-kilometre stretch of motorway will link the capital, Skopje, to Stip, an important regional economic hub.

The stretch will also provide Stip with access to the existing pan-European Corridor 10, which connects Macedonia with Greece to the south and Serbia to the north.

The other motorway segment will be built in the west of the country. This 57-kilometre highway will link the western resort town of Ohrid to the nearby town of Kicevo and will allow improve access from Skopje to Ohrid.

It will eventually form part of the unfinished Corridor 8, linking the country with Bulgaria to the east and Albania to the west.

“This represents continuation of the government’s policy of increasing capital investment in big infrastructure projects,” the Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, recently said.

The interest rate on the loan will be 2 per cent and Macedonia will have to pay back the money within 20 years, including a grace period of five years, the Prime Minister said.

The loan marks the first serious attempt by the Macedonian government to tap into Chinese funds for transport allocated for the region. Beijing has assigned some 10 billion euro for reconstruction and development in Southeast Europe.

Macedonia recently announced plans to boost the construction of transport infrastructure.

This summer it started building the last 28-kilometre stretch of Corridor 10, a project that will cost some 300 million euros.

Most of the money for this came from the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Macedonia also recently launched plans to renovate the railway line that forms part of the Corridor 10 and announced a three-stage plan to build a new railway line towards Bulgaria.

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