Don't Hold Your Breath for the Awesome New Panama Canal

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Feb. 5 2014 4:40 PM

A Man, a Plan, a Delay, Panama

466974395-view-of-halted-expansion-works-at-panama-canal-locks-in
Expansion work on Panama Canal locks has been halted in Cocoli, near Panama City, on Feb. 5, 2014.

Photo by Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images

The going attempts to expand the Panama Canal don’t seem to be going so well. Reuters reports:

Group United for the Canal, a consortium led by Spanish builder Sacyr, said in a statement that the government's canal authority had broken off talks on who will pay some $1.6 billion needed to complete the ambitious project.
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 Most work on the canal has halted while the two sides attempt to resolve the disputes.

The project on the 100-year-old canal, meant to accommodate the increasing number of ships—particularly natural gas tankers—that exceed so-called Panamax size, was about 70 percent complete.

The only good news for Panama and the consortium is that a much-heralded project, backed by a Chinese firm, to build a new, much longer, canal through Nicaragua also appears to be way behind schedule.

Post-Panamax ships now make up about 16 percent of the world's container fleet today but carry 45 percent of the cargo.

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

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