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The United States abandoned plans to construct a waterway in Nicaragua in the early 20th century after it purchased the French interests in the Panama Canal.The idea of constructing a man-made waterway through Central America is old.
The routes suggested usually ran across Nicaragua, Panama, or the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico.The history of attempts to build a Nicaragua canal connecting the Caribbean Sea and thus the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean goes back at least to 1825 when the Federal Republic of Central America hired surveyors to study a route via Lake Nicaragua, 32.7 metres (107 ft) above sea level. Despite the operation of the Panama Canal, which opened in 1914, interest in a Nicaragua canal has continued.With emergence of globalization, an increase in commerce and the cost of fuel, and the limitations of the Panama Canal, the concept of a second canal across the American land bridge became more attractive, and in 2006 the president of Nicaragua, Enrique Bolaños, announced an intention to proceed with such a project.On 26 September 2012, the Nicaraguan Government and the newly formed Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Group (HKND) signed a memorandum of understanding that committed HKND to financing and building the "Nicaraguan Canal and Development Project".The Nicaraguan Government subsequently approved the Master Concession Agreement with HKND on 13 June 2013 thereby granting "the sole rights to the HKND Group to plan, design, construct and thereafter to operate and manage the Nicaragua Grand Canal and other related projects, including ports, a free trade zone, an international airport and other infrastructure development projects".), formally the Nicaraguan Canal and Development Project (also referred to as the Nicaragua Grand Canal, or the Grand Interoceanic Canal) is a planned shipping route through Nicaragua to connect the Caribbean Sea (and therefore the Atlantic Ocean) with the Pacific Ocean.
Its viability has been questioned by shipping experts and engineers.
In June 2013, Nicaragua's National Assembly approved a bill to grant a 50-year concession to finance and manage the project to the private Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company (HKND Group) headed by Wang Jing, a Chinese billionaire.
Construction of a canal using the San Juan River as an access route to Lake Nicaragua was first proposed in the early colonial era.
HKND Group has begun the study phase of development, to assess the technological and economic feasibility of constructing a canal in Nicaragua, as well as the potential environmental, social, and regional implications of various routes.
Initial findings of the commercial analysis conducted by HKND Group indicate that the combined effect of growth in east–west trade and in ship sizes could provide a compelling argument for the construction of a second canal, substantially larger than the expanded Panama Canal, across Central America.
Within 10 to 15 years, growth in global maritime trade is expected to cause congestion and delays in transit through the Panama Canal without a complementary route through the isthmus.