J. Carlos Salinas reports from Puerto Aguirre, El Deber news:
50,000 tons of export soy in hindrance
Border. Some 25 barges with grain of Bolivian soy are stranded in Puerto Aguirre. The cause is a surprising resolution of the Customs Office which paralyses foreign trade there.
Scared. This is how the staff that manages the terminal at Puerto Aguirre port is, after verifying that the release of the national customs of Bolivia (ANB) indicating to stop all commercial activity of import or export had its direct impact in the foreign business of Bolivia, also affecting the Brazilian [imports].
Some 25 barges with approximately 50,000 tons of soy beans that were ready to leave are stopped in the Tamengo channel in the terminal of Puerto Aguirre port.
It was observed that these barges, despite the ban on exit, continue being filled with soy beans, because as explained to officials of the place, in this international business, the purchase and sale is a 24 hour job.
Mauricio Villarroel, Chief of operations of the terminal Puerto Aguirre, indicated that there is uncertainty in the route which accounts for 70% of national exports and is one of the main entry points of steel, iron construction and additives for manufacture of gasoline which is mostly devoted to Santa Cruz agricultural industry.
Each barge with a capacity of between 1,500 and 2,000 tons (t), does not have the permission of the Customs Office to exit, so Villarroel remarked that for each day that is lost, the exporter must pay $800 for the rental of these conveyors and then reschedule their turn to shipping vessels which are in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay and allow them to transport their products to final destination.
Currently, the Aguirre terminal port has two silos for grain of soybean collection. The first has a storage capacity of 18,000 t and the second, 22,000 t, both silos have 60% of their capacity, used.
Three tanks of oils of soybean and sunflower with a capacity each of 2.5 million of oil and four tanks for gasoline, diesel and alcohol (with a capacity between 2.7 and 5 million liters each), that it is using YPFB, complete the infrastructure of Puerto Aguirre.
For Cresencio Cruz, administrative and financial manager of Puerto Aguirre, there is no way to understand neither technical nor legally the release document of the customs, as in its discretion the place that has been operating since 1988, after losing in 2010 its range of export processing zone, continued to work under the regime of ports and supported by the code 721 that implies the control of the customs of Puerto Suarez.
Cruz stressed that Customs, by this code 721, is aware of all the commercial activity that is done in this place and that there is no reason to suddenly be sought to strangle international trade. “Time ago we asked customs to be a primary zone, to have a customs port, but we did not get any response.” “I don’t understand that once you make an investment in this time of approximately $30 million dollars and generate monthly taxes $40,000, we have this kind of attitude,” he said.
Despite the journalistic requirement yesterday [July 23], the Customs and the Ministry of economy and Finance reported that they will, today [July 24], give a response to the issue. [and probably the government will expect Santa Cruz productivity sector to be thankful for??!!]
The provisions of the Decree and what is the port
– Standard. The Supreme Decree 470 of April 7, 2010 approved the regulation of the special regime of free trade zones, which establishes in its provision that these areas may request the extension of the concession for a period of five years until August 9. The lack of submission of application for extension within the time limit will result in automatic revocation of the grant, in accordance with paragraph III of article 24 of the regulation. However, it does not specify if the State will take care of them.
– Port. The Aguirre terminal port was created in 1988 on a surface of 206 ha, on the Tamengo canal of the Paraguay-Paraná waterway, on the border of Bolivia with Brazil. It is one of the most important ports of the border area.
“We are within the rule”
Cresencio Cruz / Pto Aguirre Manager.
– Why do you think Customs made this statement?
– The truth is that technically or legally, there is a response to this customs determination. I reiterate that the free zone from 2010 has stopped working and this port is now under the general regime of ports.
– Are all papers in order?
– We are within the rule and pay taxes.
– Do you have current permission to operate?
– Our permit is in force.
– What are you going to do?
– First to be informed. Try to understand what is sought with this measure.
– If the Government seeks to establish presence in these presumes, will it be allowed?
– If it’s to work, no problem there.
Alert for loss of national competitiveness
For the export sector, the cessation of the Bolivian foreign trade by the Paraguay-Paraná waterway is a hard blow to the competitiveness of Bolivian entrepreneurs in external markets.
To measure the impact, the Manager of the Chamber of exporters of Santa Cruz (Cadex), Oswaldo Barriga, explained that by the waterway, they moved more export, 700,000 tons of non-traditional products a year, aside from hydrocarbons and minerals.
Of that total, by Central Aguirre moved between 400,000 and 500,000 tons per year.
For an exporter, as said by Barriga, to move their products through the waterway is one of the most profitable options, since it represents a saving of more than $15 dollars per ton.
If Bolivian and Brazilian merchandise is paralyzed, according to Barriga, in the territory on the border with Brazil, they are ready to leave more than 3,000 tons of soy beans.
According to the Chamber of Custom Brokers of Puerto Suarez, Antonio Rocha, the regional customs office told them, that so far, they must use the Ladário port of Brazil. [and so our competitiveness goes down the drain…]
Barriga externalized their concern by the little encouraging stage for their sector and noted that yesterday a first inter-agency meeting between the Cadex, the Bolivian Institute of foreign trade (IBCE) and the National Chamber of Customs Brokers (CNDA) was held to seek a solution with the customs.
In the next few hours they will ask for a period of 90 days or 180 days so Central Aguirre meets the requirements to be a primary customs zone.
First we had a port
Antonio Rocha / customs brokers, Pto. Suarez
First we had Central Aguirre port, then the Zone. Then you can not confuse badly now with the free zone.
The zone that has been closed is because the dealer, which is the same as Central Aguirre, did not accept the new conditions of Decree 470 of 2010, which established new taxes, regulations and tribute to the dealers in the free zones. He rejected the resolution and welcomed the scheduled closure.
When decommissioning of the free zone, does not involve the closure of the port because they were never together in customs terms.
Today [July 24] the way for export of the whole agribusiness sector of Santa Cruz is being shut down.
As the day was ending (July 24), the government said Puerto Aguirre could continue to do business for the next sixty days… and I say, why do we have to be that slow, that bureaucratic? Don’t they understand that businesses have commitments, have to honor contracts and overall plan their activities??? For that extraordinary permit, see the news in Spanish here
Outrage? I feel much worse! It is certainly incomprehensible how this or any government who is supposed to “make things happen’ to support job creation, productivity, competitiveness does exactly the opposite!!!