South American Officials and Ports Calling for Integration

As The Buenes Aires Herald reports, Argentine shipping industry businessmen are urging more protection against foreign dumping, while accusing government officials of ‘lying’. The claims were made at the “Second International Forum Rosario Ports, axis of the Mercosur” held at Rosario.

During the forum officials and private port leaders from South America were demanding the strengthening of regional integration and a solution to waterway asymmetries which mostly favour Paraguay to the detriment of Argentina while representatives of the local shipping industry are urging more protection.

Argentina’s Under-Secretary of Ports and Waterways Horacio Tettamanti told the forum that the Mercosur members should work together to “replace the overwhelming number of problems with co-operation.”

Rosario’s Terminal 6 Port Manager Pablo Jukic said that the asymmetries have resulted in 75 percent of the ships serving the waterway being Paraguayan-flagged, while only 15 percent are Argentine-flagged, the rest being those from Brazil, Bolivia, and even Panama.

Separately, he said that is is “not far-fetched” to think that by 2020 Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay will together handle 180-200 million tons of cargo versus about 100 million tons at present and that the four nations should reach accords to face that challenge.

Héctor Duarte Chávez, the head of Paraguay’s Navigation and Ports National Administration (ANNP), said that Paraguay is “really aware of the importance of the waterway which handles 80 percent of all the cargo coming into and going out from Paraguay, a landlocked country.”

He said that the ANNP was talking to Argentine Ports and Navigation officials to face new integration challenges to “allow Paraguay to co-ordinate efforts with Argentina and Uruguay to handle its cargoes through international ports and free trade zones.”

Duarte Chávez called on the region to “leave aside nonsense and focus on what really matters,” listing among the leading issues the dredging of the shared-sovereignty trenches of the waterway. He said that the Paraguayan cargoes through the Paraná-Paraguay waterway grew from 700,000 tons in 1988 to 20 million tons last year and that it is projected to grow to 40 million tons by 2020. Ricardo dos Santos, the head of Paraguay’s CATERPPA port and terminals lobby, added that 27 national and international companies are operating the country’s 38 terminals.

According to Alberto Díaz, the head of Uruguay’s National Ports Authority (ANP), “Port integration requires a true regional integration.”

“The key to a win-win situation resides in strengthening navigation, improving regional connectivity, providing the production system with outlets and understanding that the political action in the territory of each country may have consequences in the political field of the other country, and that failing to improve infrastructure entails the failure of the system. We cannot talk about co-operation among countries when there are people who block a bridge whenever they want.”

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