February 21, 2014
Work on the multibillion-dollar Panama Canal expansion was set to restart on Thursday after a partial agreement between the canal authorities and a Spanish-led consortium, raising hopes for the program after a two-week hiatus due to a row over costs. An agreement announced late on Wednesday allows work to restart while the two sides continue talks on how the project is financed through to completion, a process which they have given themselves 72 hours to complete.
The dispute between the GUPC consortium led by Spanish builder Sacyr and the Panama Canal Authority had threatened delays that could cost Panama millions of dollars in lost shipping tolls, as well as being a setback for companies world-wide that want to move larger ships through the waterway that links the US Gulf Coast to Asian markets.
Canal officials said workers were arriving at the site, and were set to check whether they were complying with the agreement. “The parties are engaged in intense discussions and made progress Wednesday on key issues that would allow funding, resumption of works and payments of subcontractors and workers,” the consortium, which includes Italy’s Salini Impregilo , said in a statement on Thursday.Reuters