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A Newly Connected Continent

A Newly Connected Continent

Latin America's governments will dismantle obstacles to trade

The Nicaraguan Canal is a $50bn megaproject with two ports, cities and an airport attached. It is supposed to be ready by 2021. But the sleepy bay at Brito, where the canal is meant to meet the Pacific, suggests otherwise. Financing was never clear; affected communities are fiercely opposed; secretive land sales have provoked suspicion. Locals reckon the project will be dropped now that Nicaragua’s presidential election is over.

Amid a slump in global commodity prices, extravagant, trans-continental projects to bring raw goods to global markets have gone out of vogue. A $60bn Chinese-backed plan for a trans-Amazonian railway is on ice. But the same underlying factors will in 2017 lead to a surge in Latin American spending on national infrastructure, alongside efforts to boost regional integration. These will be less spectacular but no less transformative, linking isolated communities and small businesses with markets within and across borders.

Written: Wednesday January 10th, 9:49pm 2018