nicaragua canal 4

Two interesting contributions to the debate about the canal appeared recently. Both surfaced in September. The first is a lengthy interview with Paul Oquist, Minister for National Policies and Plans in the Sandinista Government (Spanish with English sub-titles). Carried out by Swedish journalist Dick Emanuelsson, it covers a lot of ground. It includes:

  • a description of the mega project, including the ten sub-projects – the canal itself, two ports, two free trade zones, one (or two!) airports, a railway, an oil pipeline, and associated infrastructure
  • the economic impact  – according to Oquist an increase in the size of the economy from $10 billion to $25 billion in five years, and a tripling of the number of formal jobs
  • the nature of the concession granted to Wang Jing and the HKND
  • the environmental impact and the mitigation planned
  • the impact on severe poverty
  • the effect on the other sectors of the Nicaraguan economy

The worries about this last point were picked up in an article in Envio in August. The respected economist Adolfo Acevedo outlined some economic objections to the canal. One of these was the effects on exchange rates – the so-called ‘Dutch disease’ – which would make Nicaragua’s exports uncompetitive. The country’s exports currently stand at record levels, and Acevedo worries about the distortions the mega-project would cause to other sectors of the economy (see here for the short article).

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