THE PROBLEM OF BEING A “PUERTO SUCIO”
The sea is the channel par excellence of international trade, through which countries around the world transport their export products and their purchases abroad.
It is certainly not the only one, since both land and air transport are also vital for exchanges between countries, but in proportion, maritime transport is responsible for no less than 80% of the goods that move around the world.
This is why restricting or complicating the management of maritime transport is synonymous with undermining the development possibilities of any country.
In this context, I would like to contribute to these "Maritime Chronicles" the case of Argentina and its recent qualification, not formal, as a "Puerto Sucio" and what this implies.
A succession of unfortunate facts
Argentina is a country with great wealth but has been impoverished and indebted for many years, suffering from a lack of predictability and state policies that set a clear course for its economy and growth.
One of the structural problems of its economy is the lack of dollars, which recurrently generates the need to restrict purchases abroad due to the impossibility of paying for them in such currency.
This also has a direct impact on local production, since, according to the Chamber of Importers of the Argentine Republic (CIRA), around 80% of the country's imports are destined to productive inputs, so that, at the end of the circle, this also has an impact on exports, which are the only way to obtain those much-needed dollars.
A "vicious circle" is thus generated, for which several solutions have already been tried, but none of them has been finally and foreseeably effective.
A dangerous path
Unfortunately, in recent months the country has reached a very risky point. In an effort to "take care" of the dollars, the Central Bank issued a resolution that hinders the payment of international freight, including maritime freight, together with a decree that imposes a "country tax" on non-resident freight.
Immediately, the sector's representatives set alarm bells ringing, when they verified that under these conditions Argentine ports became "Puerto Sucio", a term that is not official, but is commonly used in the world of international trade.
This makes the country a problematic and uncompetitive place to do business, since, on the one hand, taxes reduce competitiveness and, fundamentally, because restrictions on freight payments generate uncertainty for service providers who, unable to collect in the country in a predictable manner, decide to collect at destination, for which companies must ask their own customers to pay the freight abroad, a completely atypical situation that adds difficulties.
The need to prioritize connectivity
Continuing with the subject, this is a complex situation, since the lack of availability of dollars is real and is the reason for this series of measures.
In this context, the next decisions to be taken will be decisive for what may happen in the immediate future, as well as the way in which the world accompanies Argentina in this process.
Scenarios such as this one highlight the great importance of maritime transport, not only as a specific service, but also for what it can represent for the image and competitiveness of countries.
This is especially relevant in a market such as Argentina's, which due to its geographical location is far from the main trade routes, so that good maritime connectivity is essential for its effective positioning as a leading player in international trade.
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