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Panama Canal negotiations break down

Panama Canal negotiations break down
Talks between the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and lock gate contractor Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) have broken down, with no agreement met.

According to GUPC, the ACP have broken off talks, putting 10,000 jobs at imminent risk. The news comes despite recent positivty from the Panamanian president that an agreement was soon to be signed.

GUPC gave 21 days notice of suspension of work at the start of the year as it sought assistance in dealing with $1.6bn in cost overruns. As the 20 January deadline passed, work on the locks slowed to 25% of normal pace during the critical dry season in Panama.

Talks between the parties and insurer Zurich, which holds guarantees of $450m as part of the building contract, have been ongoing since January. ACP has previously stated that it could step in to oversee completion of the project, although any solution is likely to incur even further delays. Before the dispute the canal was set to begin operations in the second half of 2015, missing the initial 2014 deadline.