Private sector urges govt to hire port services to keep trade flowing

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By LatAm Reports Staff Writers

The future of the operations of the container terminal, today in charge of APM Terminals, will be decided by means of an international tender for some corporation to operate the harbour enclosure, something that representatives of the business chambers see positive, provided that the current flow of maneuvers is not interrupted.

Everything is intended to be carried out in a legal process, reiterated yesterday the authorities of the Ministry of Communications, Infrastructure and Housing (CIV) during two different business events, which would provide certainty to users.

One of the concerns raised by members of the logistics chain is the interruption of APM’s activities when the nullity of the contract that gave life to this company is notified. But the VIC authorities, as rectors of port policy, said that this will not happen and that from the government all the support is being given to finding a solution.

The head of the VIC, Felix Alvarado, explained during a meeting organized by the Fundación para el Desarrollo de Guatemala (Fundesa) that in this legal situation involving the Quetzal Port Company (EPQ) and APM, the priority is to guarantedscsde the continuity of the service. The container terminal operates with the most proven model of cargo handling in port and losing that activity, is what Guatemala cannot afford to do in the current context.

One of the messages reiterated by the official is that, as an emerging solution, an international public tender will be launched that gives long-term certainty to both the State of Guatemala and anyone who wants to compete and obtains the award.

They guarantee operations

Simultaneously, at an event of the Guatemalan Chamber of Commerce (CCG) and the Guatemalan-American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) on the current situation of the port system, Werner Ovalle, president of the National Port Commission (CPN) and Fernando Suriano Buezo, vice minister of communications, reported that the operations of APM Terminals are guaranteed, and they rule out any interruption, since it would be harmful to the national economy.

It is not an option to close the terminal’s operations due to the impact on the economy; the Executive is working to provide a legal solution, the panelists put it.

They reiterated that mechanisms are being sought under the parameters of the law to find a viable solution, coinciding with what the minister said hours before.

Urgent solution

During the forum, Jorge Briz, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Guatemala (CCG), declared that the port issue has been dealt with for years, so it is clear and evident that the infrastructure of the system requires a great growth, which means the creation of new infrastructure and that the current one works properly, with structural changes and that new tenders are given for more terminals.

On the guarantee mentioned by the officials, he indicated that there is confidence in the authorities and in the president -Bernardo Arévalo – that they already have a solution so that this port terminal continues to operate properly – and not to stop for a single minute. If that terminal stops operating, it would create a disaster and catastrophe in international and domestic trade.

Double crisis

Fanny de Estrada, director of institutional relations of the Guatemalan Association of Exporters (Agexport), indicated that there are two crises in the port system: one is that of APM Terminals, but there are options that are proposed; and if there were none, we should resort to the Congress of the Republic with proposals so that the terminal is not closed.

The other part is the congestion of bulk vessels in the EPQ, so changes to the regulations and regulation are required, since the facilities remained small in the face of economic dynamics, apart from the fact that the azolvation in the dock must be addressed.

Meanwhile, Alfredo Vila, president of the Association of Sugars of Guatemala (Asazgua), said that as EPQ users, they have been facing such problems for many years. For example, during Oscar Berger’s government a dredging project was left so that ships of up to 60,000 tons can enter (today only 30 thousand enter). It was also proposed to build two commercial docks, but those works were never done.

Finally, he agreed that, if APM Terminals stops operating, there would be a crisis in the loading of containers, but that it reassures to hear officials assuring that this will not happen.

This article has been translated after first appearing in Prensa Libre