HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. is working with the Nicaraguan government on an interocean canal project that could rival the Panama Canal, The Washington Post reports.
Experts say the project, which would dig a 130-mile canal linking the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean from Monkey Point to the Port of Corinto on the Pacific Ocean, could cost $40 billion and take up to 11 years to finish. The Nicaraguan government plans to grant the Chinese company a concession for 100 years.
Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega has pushed approval of the canal through the country’s Congress, after presenting the proposal last week. Final approval is expected this week.
The new canal would be just a few hundred miles northwest of the Panama Canal. Critics have been asking whether Central America needs two canals, in addition to the “land bridge” of railway that connect U.S. West Coast ports with the East Coast. Questions have also been raised about Nicaragua’s infrastructure.
However, despite these potential setbacks, some say there is enough trade to warrant a second canal on the continent.
Jason Bittner, director of the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of Southern Florida, said the demand will probably be there by the time the Nicaragua project is finished.
“I don’t anticipate there being any reduced demand in trade between the global trading partners, so East Asia and the eastern United States will continue to have significant trade,” Bittner said. “If you make this large public sector investment, it will be used, as long as it’s priced properly, as long as the Panama Canal isn’t significantly undercutting it.”