San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Panama not worried over Nicaragua’s canal ambitions

PANAMA CITY – Panama’s foreign minister, Roberto Henriquez, said Monday that the construction of a canal in Nicaragua would not be a threat to his country, but he acknowledged that his government has not actually discussed the issue.

“I do not consider it a threat to the canal [in Panama],” he said. “In any case, it will serve another purpose. But eventually, if they do build a canal, it wouldn’t replace the Panama Canal.”

Nicaragua’s government submitted to its Congress a canal project a week ago. The project would cost an estimated at $30 billion, and six countries are said to be interested in financing it, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said last week.

The administrator of the Panama Canal, Alberto Alemán, said “the project of building a canal through Nicaragua does not worry [Panamanian officials], because competition is always good.”

Panama estimates that 5 percent of world trade passes through the 80-mile canal each year.

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