Plan to nationalise ports in Buenos Aires province “absurd”

05 Jun 2014

The deputy governor of the state of Buenos Aires, Gabriel Mariotto, has put forward a project to bring all ports within the province back under the direct control of local government, whilst boosting exports in Argentine-flagged vessels to a minimum of 50%.

But the initiative has been met with derision by cereals producers.

A law package is close to finalisation and will shortly be put before local senators for discussion. Although the national government has yet to comment, it anticipates that the spirit of the laws will be backed by the president, Cristina Kirchner, with Mr Mariotto being one of her strongest supporters.

Currently, ports within the state are managed by privately controlled consortia, all of which are foreign-owned, leading to a loss of tax income for the state. Under the new proposal, these will be replaced by a completely new state-controlled organisation.

Those ports affected will include Bahía Blanca, Quequén, Mar del Plata, San Pedro and La Plata, which received their concessions from the province many years ago. A provincial representative sits on the board of each port, but the idea is to increase their power to ensure that Argentine-flagged vessels get priority in handling exports, increasing revenue for the province.

A consultant at Agritrend branded the move to nationalise the ports as being “non-viable” and “absurd”, since most of the grain silo operators are highly efficient.

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