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Panama reaches initial deal to resume canal expansion

February 14 - Reports in the international media suggest that the outline of a deal has been reached towards ending a lengthy budget dispute over the stalled project to expand the Panama canal.

The builders have stopped work on doubling the canal's capacity while a row rages over USD1.6 billion in cost overruns and extra financing for the work that is 70 percent done and due to be finished next year.

It would appear that the deal involves a proposal for insurers Zurich to transfer its surety bond into debt as a financing mechanism to go part way to covering a loan to complete the work.

The administrator of the Panama Canal Authority, Jorge Quijano is quoted as saying that the parties still have some topics to resolve and are working in that direction.

But he also said that did not mean the PCA had abandoned the alternative of handing over the contract to a third party and did not give details about what any agreement would involve.
However, the reports suggest that an agreement was likely to centre on both sides bearing some of the additional costs and involve more bank loans

Talks over how to find the additional cash to finish the project have been extended twice. Panama called off talks last week but started them again soon afterwards.

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