Financiers are being sought for the 5,000-kilometre regional rail link proposed between Singapore and Kunming in southern China, International Trade and Industry minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Azis said Monday May 28.
She said the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) and China, which has huge reserves thanks to its booming economy, could help fund the project which financial analysts have estimated at US$15 billion.
Rafidah was responding to a question on the status of the joint project between Asean and China by an official of a Chinese-based railway construction company at the Malaysia-China Business Opportunities seminar here.
The minister is in Beijing leading a trade and investment mission to Shanghai, Beijing and Quangzhou.
Rafidah said the Asean-Mekong Basin Development Cooperation Council was now negotiating the financial aspects of carrying out the project, which was mooted in 1995 at the Fifth Asean Summit in Bangkok.
As for the technical aspects, the council has identified existing lines, the need for new lines, repair or replacement of old lines as well as “spurs” which are new lines besides the main route in certain countries which are off the main rail link route.
Malaysia, which was project coordinator for the feasibility study, undertook a US$2 million study on the ambitious project and had donated railway sleepers to Burma, Laos and Cambodia for the project.
No official date has been set for completion of the project but Asean officials have reportedly expressed the hope it could be completed by 2015, providing greater land access between the economies in South-East Asia and China.