Nicaragua on Monday announced the start of work on a $50 billion shipping canal, an infrastructure project backed by China that aims to rival Panama’s waterway and revitalize the economy of the second-poorest country in the Americas.
The groundbreaking was largely symbolic, as work began on a road designed to accommodate machinery needed to build a port for the canal on the Central American country’s Pacific coast.
Nicaragua’s government says the proposed 172-mile (278-km) canal, due to be operational by around 2020, would raise annual economic growth to more than 10 percent. In the Americas, only Haiti is poorer.
The canal could also give China a foothold in Central America, long dominated by the United States, which completed the Panama Canal a century ago.