The first ships have passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal expansion in a trial run ahead of next month’s official opening. If completed on time, the $8.5 billion project will have been finished in only 12 months.

Egypt ranked 119th out of 144 economies in last year’s Global Competitiveness Report, and 97th out of 138 in its Global Enabling Trade Report. The canal expansion is intended to improve these performances. It’s also intended to address youth unemployment, a particular concern in a country where 60% of the population is under 40 years old. Egypt’s President Abdelfattah Said Hussein Alsisi told delegates at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting that once the expansion is open, “the second phase will entail developing the canal zone and opening the door for investment”.

Here are some facts about the Suez Canal expansion:


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Author: Donald Armbrecht writes for the Forum’s Agenda website.

Image: A cargo ship is seen crossing through the New Suez Canal, Ismailia, Egypt, July 25, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer