GLOBAL ECONOMY

Nicaragua's Ortega Inks Canal Deal With China's Wang Jing

Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega, left, and Chinese businessman Wang Jing shake hands before signing a concession agreement for the construction of a multibillion-dollar canal at the Casa de los Pueblos in Managua, Nicaragua, Friday, June 14, 2013.  Legislation approved by a 61-25 vote in the National Assembly dominated by Ortega's Sandinista Front contains no specific route for the canal and virtually no details of its financing or economic viability, but it grants a Hong Kong-based company 50 years of exclusive rights to study the plan and build and operate a canal in exchange for Nicaragua receiving a minority share of any profits. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega, left, and Chinese businessman Wang Jing shake hands before signing a concession agreement for the construction of a multibillion-dollar canal at the Casa de los Pueblos in Managua, Nicaragua, Friday, June 14, 2013. Legislation approved by a 61-25 vote in the National Assembly dominated by Ortega's Sandinista Front contains no specific route for the canal and virtually no details of its financing or economic viability, but it grants a Hong Kong-based company 50 years of exclusive rights to study the plan and build and operate a canal in exchange for Nicaragua receiving a minority share of any profits. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

Chinese businessman Wang Jing and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega have signed an agreement giving his company the right to build a shipping channel across Nicaragua that would compete with the Panama Canal.

The signing took place a day after Nicaragua's National Assembly voted to grant Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. a 50-year concession to study, then possibly build and run, the canal.

Ortega's backers say the project would transform one of the region's poorest countries by bringing tens of thousands of jobs to the country and fueling an economic boom that would mimic the prosperity of nearby Panama and its U.S.-built canal.

Critics say the proposal, which was given fast-track approval, contains no specific route for the canal and virtually no details of its financing or economic viability.

Addressing opposition comments that the previously little-known Chinese businessman was illusionary, Ortega said at the signing: "Here we have our brother Wang Jing in flesh and blood, here is the ghost in flesh and blood."

Based on reporting by The Associated Press. 

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