Well, I’ll eat my Panama hat!

Cargo News (July 9, 2014) – “Nicaragua Canal Given Green Light”

“A deal has been struck between the HKND Group (Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company) and the Nicaraguan government to build a massive canal that could rival the Panama Canal.

“The proposed project would stretch a staggering 278km (172 miles) across Nicaragua, from Punta Gorda on the Atlantic Ocean through to Brito on the Pacific, passing on the way Lake Nicaragua in the middle of the country.

“Construction on the US $ 40 billion project could begin as early as 2014, with the canal projected to be 230m (755 ft.) to 520m (1,705 ft.) wide and 27.6m (90 ft.) deep, the BBC reported.

“Exactly one hundred years ago it took the US a decade to construct the Panama Canal, which is less than a third of the length of the proposed Nicaraguan Canal and which is why the proposals have faced detractors.

“However, Nicaragua is confident that engineering and construction practices have greatly advanced; to quell environmental concerns, it has also chosen the prospective route to avoid areas of biodiversity, indigenous lands and environmentally protected areas.

“On completion of the project, the flow of global east-west trade could be drastically changed.” —
Detractors? Now who do you suppose would be against a proposal that would cut into the business (and profits) of the Panama Canal? Surely not the carriers. A shorter distance and lower costs fatten up their bottom lines.

And shippers know that a bigger canal will allow for increased global trade and larger tankers, many of which will be too large even for an expanded Panama Canal. So, it can’t be the shippers.

Nicaraguan officials are confident the project will help lift 400,000 people out of general poverty by 2018 with the help of revenues created by the project, and Paul Oquist, a close advisor to President Daniel Ortega on the project, said that formal employment in Nicaragua would double, “thanks to the Canal and its multiplier effect.” He told the BBC that the projects surrounding the Canal, such as the creation of two free-trade zones, two ports linked by a railway and an international airport would create “a formative change in job creation.”

No negativity there. You don’t suppose the folks behind the Panama Canal project are the ones doing the griping, do you? Review again our Vol. XXXVIII, Art. 8. Five months ago today.

The “backers” of the Panama Canal expansion program have backed the wrong horse.