The Panama Canal is Getting Some Competition. Nicaraguan lawmakers have approved a 50-year concession that will allow a Chinese company to build and manage a Central American shipping canal to compete with the Panama Canal. The $40 billion proposal by HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. Ltd. includes plans for two free-trade zones, a railway, an oil pipeline and airports. Initially, the company sought a 100-year concession for the project, which is expected to take 11 years to complete. The project is expected to double Nicaragua's gross domestic product and create more than 40,000 jobs.