Deadline looms for Panama Canal dispute; effects of work stoppage would be felt worldwide

A massive expansion of the Panama Canal is supposed to transform global trade, and U.S. ports have invested billions in preparing for the new generation of larger ships that will be able to pass through it.

But the Panama Canal Authority now faces the prospect of a work stoppage on the $5.25 billion expansion because of a financial dispute.

The Spanish-led consortium hired to handle the biggest part of the canal expansion says it will halt work by Monday if the canal authority doesn't come up with the funds to cover $1.6 billion in cost overruns. The authority insists the consortium live up to the terms of the original contract.

A stop and re-start could mean a delay of months or even years.