Trade between Asia and North America will benefit from the expansion of the Panama Canal after canal authorities nominated a bid by a Spanish-Italian consortium as the frontrunner to be awarded the expansion contract. The Panama Canal Authority will assess the consortium's US$3.12 billion bid, led by Spain's Sacyr Vallehermoso and Italy's Impregilo, for technical issues before confirming the deal. The consortium beat two rival consortiums for the contract. Presenting significant savings and a sound technical front, the group was said to have the 'best value' bid, which will see canal capacity double to accommodate newer, wider ships. "This event marks a critical milestone for the Panama Canal Authority and Panama," said Alberto Aleman Zubieta, CEO of the Panama Canal Authority. "We look forward to awarding the contract in the coming days." The canal sees about five percent of the world's cargo, mostly trade between Asia and the east coast of the USA.