Panama Canal:

Establishment of Commission To Study Sea-Level Canal and Alternatives

NSIAD-86-97BR: Published: Apr 29, 1986. Publicly Released: May 29, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reported on the establishment of a trilateral commission consisting of the United States, Panama, and Japan to study alternatives to the existing Panama Canal.

GAO found that the proposed study, which will examine transportation alternatives in addition to the feasibility of a sea-level canal in Panama, will discharge a 1977 treaty obligation to conduct a sea-level canal feasibility study. While the proposed study is broader in scope than that necessary to discharge the treaty obligation, it is in accordance with the Administration's policy on treaty implementation. The President's National Security Adviser designated the State Department to be the lead U.S. agency for carrying out the plans to comply with this treaty provision, and State agreed to finance the U.S. portion of the study cost through its budget. Congress approved State's request for initial funds for the study in fiscal year 1985 and, in March 1986, the Departments of State and Defense and the Panama Canal Commission agreed on a procedure which would require their consensus for making key personnel appointments and on promoting effective U.S. representation on the study commission.

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