Chinese telecom billionaire moving to build Nicaragua Canal

A Chinese telecom billionaire has signed a deal with the government of Nicaragua to build a $40 billion canal across Nicaragua.

Panama is now trying to complete a $5.25-billion reconstruction by mid-2015 that will greatly enhance the channel’s capacity. It’s not clear that the world’s largest shipping companies will continue, or resume, using the Panama route.

Earlier this year, Danish-owned Maersk Line, the planet’s biggest fleet of container vessels, announced it would cease traversing Panama owing to a combination of high tolls and uneconomical restrictions on ship size.

The size of container ships is measured in something called “20-foot equivalent units,” or TEUs, each of which approximates the length of a single cargo container. At present, the Panama Canal can handle vessels measuring up to 4,500 TEUs, a benchmark known in the industry by the abbreviation “Panamax.”

With the addition of two new systems of locks as well as the dredging of existing channels, the waterway will be able to handle ships measuring as much as 12,000 TEUs, which insiders already refer to as “New Panamax.”

There are already 18,000 TEUs cargo ships being built, while container ships of the near future may well be as large as 30,000 TEUs. Built from scratch, a Nicaragua canal could be far better equipped to handle the new seaborne giants.

The Nicaragua canal could start construction late in 2014 and complete by 2019.

A route through Nicaragua rather than Panama would shorten voyages between the Atlantic and the Pacific by about 800 kilometres for a trip between New York City and California, saving time and money.

Wang Jing owns 36.97 percent of Beijing Xinwei’s shares. Beijing Xinwei, founded in 1995, makes wireless phone gear. The company’s goal is to become one of the world’s top three telecommunications companies in five to 10 years. Xinwei signed a contract last year worth as much as $300 million to set up a phone network in Nicaragua.

6 million people live in Nicaragua.
The country has a GDP of $10 billion.
The Nicaragua canal would be 280 kilometers long versus the 77 kilometer Panama canal.

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