The Panama Canal said today that it will provide available information to the Panamanian State to present defend against the lawsuit filed with the UN by the Spanish construction company Sacyr concerning the conflict over cost overruns in the construction of the third set of locks.
"We are going to have to provide a lot of information because we are the ones that have the information they need," said the CEO of the Panama Canal Authority, Jorge Luis Quijano.
The Spanish company, led by the international consortium that built the main project of the canal expansion, announced last week that it filed a lawsuit against the Panamanian State before the United Nations Commission for International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) for alleged damages.
Sacyr explained that with this measure he seeks to reinforce the protection of his rights, since he considers that the actions of Panama violate some obligations included in the agreement for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments between Spain and Panama.
The measure taken by Sacyr, leader of Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), is another step in the legal conflict that the consortium maintains with the interoceanic canal due to the cost overruns in the construction of the third set of locks, inaugurated in June 2016 .
"We cannot avoid that Sacyr, as anyone, files a lawsuit against the State because there is a treaty for these issues," said Quijano regarding UNCITRAL, the legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law.
GUPC, also made up by Italian Impregilo, Belgian Jan De Nul and Panamanian CUSA, signed in 2009 the construction contract for the new locks for $3,118 million, but the final cost has turned out to be much higher.
The contract signed at the time by the consortium and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), the autonomous body that manages the water route, established an internal system to resolve possible disputes and, in the final analysis, included the possibility of resorting to the International Court of Arbitration of Miami (USA).
Last July it was learned that the consortium had raised to the arbitration phase claims amounting to $5,393 million (about 5,393 million euros) and of those that remained to resolve disputes worth $5,199 million.
"We are in arbitration with Sacyr, which is where all this should be; however we know that the Government has already contacted its lawyers to defend themselves and I think they have hired a good firm to do so," added the administrator.
The Panamanian Foreign Ministry told Efe last week that the government had hired the renowned law firm Foley Hoag, based in Boston (United States) and specialized in international litigation and arbitration, to face Sacyr's claim.
Through the Canal, built by the United States at the beginning of the last century and transferred to Panama on December 31, 1999, about 6 percent of world trade passes and more than 140 sea routes and 1,700 ports in 160 different countries are connected.