Colombian megastar Shakira once asked “the CIA wanna watch us?” The line from her hit song Hips Don’t Lie may prove remarkably prescient if a Chinese plan to build an alternative to the Panama Canal through the land of her birth goes ahead. The Financial Times this week interviewed Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos who revealed that China was looking at financing a 220km train line that would provide an alternative transport route to the Panamanian waterway. Known as the ‘dry canal’, Santos said: “It’s a real proposal and it is quite advanced. The studies [the Chinese] have made on the cost of transporting per tonne, the cost of investment, they all work out.” China also plans to build a 791km train line between Colombia’s economic heartland and the port of Buenaventura. This will move 40 million tonnes of cargo a year, and allow much of it – including coal – to be shipped across the Pacific to China.
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