The Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA) is a project that emanates from the highest political levels of the region to advance regional efforts towards the physical integration of South America. The Initiative was launched in late 2000 with the participation of 12 South American countries and has become the leading South American forum for advancing the process of the region's physical integration, having CAF's strong and decisive support from its inception. CAF, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Fondo Financiero para el Desarrollo de la Cuenca del Plata (Fonplata), make up the Technical Coordination Committee (CCT), which provides technical and financial support to IIRSA activities.

This initiative responds to the need for a renewed development agenda  that may restore a pattern of sustained and shared growth, which promotes the creation of jobs, that is inclusive and participatory and that values the environmental and cultural wealth of our region.

Fundamentally, the IIRSA Initiative is based on two key areas of action:

  • The spatial distribution of territory, starting with the recognition of the geopolitical and socio-economic realities of the continent, governments agreed to the organization of South American space in multinational strips  that concentrate populations, present and potential regional production and commercial flow that would gradually converge towards common quality standard of infrastructure services in transportation, energy and telecommunications. These multinational strips were given the name Integration and Development Axes (EID). The EIDs are, therefore, the major South American regions where intra-regional and global business opportunities are generating or are more likely to generate the flow of important investment and trade opportunities.
  • The convergence of institutional norms and mechanisms: Governments have additionally established a series of groups and work dynamics to improve understanding and promote the eventual removal of regulatory, legal, operational and institutional barriers  and restrictions that limit the efficient use of the existing infrastructure, and that hamper new infrastructure investment in order to allow the free trade of goods and services within the region.

Regional infrastructure is designed according to social needs, and to the business and production chains with large scale economies throughout these axes, either for domestic consumption in the region or for global export.

The EID represents a territorial reference for the aggregate sustainable development of South America. This dynamic will facilitate access to highly productive areas that are currently relatively isolated or underutilized due to the inadequate rendering of basic infrastructure services, and will provide mechanisms for the rational and balanced distribution  of development benefits between the territories of the region.

In terms of projects, the priorities of the Initiative are  to improve infrastructure in high traffic areas, to plan and build infrastructure in areas of high development potential, to identify bottlenecks and missing links, and to preserve the environmental and social resources.

Currently, IIRSA is working on eight integration and development axes:

  • Mercosur-Chile Axis
  • Andean Axis
  • Central Inter-oceanic Axis
  • Amazon Axis
  • Guyana Shield Axis  (Venezuela-Brazil-Guyana-Suriname)
  • Peru-Brazil-Bolivia Axis
  • Capricorn Axis  (Porto Alegre-Asuncion-Jujuy-Antofagasta)
  • Southern Axis  (Talcahuano-Concepción-Neuquen-Bahia Blanca)

This program includes all infrastructure investment projects that contribute to regional integration in the areas of transportation (road, rail, sea and air), logistics, energy (generation, transmission and distribution) and telecommunications.

These projects can be bi-national or multinational, depending on how profits are distributed.

Integration projects and those associated therewith that generate transnational benefits are projects that have been incorporated by the South American countries to the IIRSA Initiative Projects Portfolio.

Integration projects are prioritized by CAF  during the financing programming dialog with the respective countries and may be eligible for special financing mechanisms, depending on their development characteristics and objectives.

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