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In this Sept. 21, 2009, file photo, cargo ships sail through the Suez Canal. An attack by assailants this weekend on a container ship in the Suez Canal has heightened risks for merchant shipping using the vital waterway, with further threats considered likely as political turmoil continues in Egypt. (AP)
In this Sept. 21, 2009, file photo, cargo ships sail through the Suez Canal. An attack by assailants this weekend on a container ship in the Suez Canal has heightened risks for merchant shipping using the vital waterway, with further threats considered likely as political turmoil continues in Egypt. (AP)

Egypt plans to dig new Suez Canal to boost trade Add to ...

Egypt is planning to build a new Suez Canal alongside the near-145 year-old historic waterway in a multi-billion dollar project aimed at expanding trade along the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

“This giant project will be the creation of a new Suez Canal parallel to the current channel of a total length of 72 kilometers,” Mohab Mamish, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, told a conference in Ismailia, a port town on the Canal. “The total estimated cost of digging ... for the new channel will be about four billion dollars,” Mamish said. His comments were broadcast by state television.

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The current Suez Canal brings in around $5-billion of revenues per year, a vital source of hard currency for Egypt which has suffered a slump in tourism and foreign investment since its 2011 uprising.

To attract more ships and generate more income, the country has had plans to develop 76,000 square kilometers around the canal for years.

Mamish spoke at a conference in which President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to announce a winning consortium to develop the project, which includes building an international industrial and logistics hub in the Suez Canal area.

Mamish said the project would involve 35 kilometers of “dry digging” and 37 kilometers would be “expansion and deepening”, indicating the current Suez Canal, which is 163 km long, could be widened as part of the project.

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