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Importers flight to potentially cause Port of Itajaí stoppage, warn local businesses

Oct, 11, 2022 Posted by Gabriel Malheiros

Week 202241

Leaders of the Itajaí Business Association (ACII) and the Federation of Business Associations of Santa Catarina (Facisc) expressed concern about the ownership concession process for the Port of Itajaí. These entities demand the permanence of APM Terminals, the port’s current lessee, so there is no discontinuity of operations. According to them, there is an imminent risk of stoppage of activities and flight of importers.

The president of ACII, Gabriela Kelm, emphasized that the port sector feels insecure with the transitional process. According to the entity, lines that operate in Itajaí are willing to reschedule operations to other ports. “ACII has no doubts that the SPI [Superintendence of the Port of Itajaí] needs to take immediate actions to avoid creating a scenario where uncertainties can thrive,” she said.

See below the track record of exports and imports of containers at the Port of Itajai between January 2019 and August 2022, according to data by DataLiner.

Port of Itajai | Exports vs Imports | Jan 2019 – Aug 2022 | TEUS

Source: DataLiner (click here to request a demo)

The business class awaits an answer to their demand for the permanence of APMT. They are also pushing for meetings between all interested parties so that the municipality of Itajaí can clarify lingering doubts after the National Waterway Transportation Agency (Antaq) suspended the make-shift leasing processes organized by SPI, as well as provide conditions for the continuity of operations.

Lawyer Eclésio da Silva, a member of the ACII’s commission on port affairs, warns that the situation at itajaí is getting worse. He reports negative impacts on the sector, with the flight of importers, who are leaving on their own, independently from shipowners. According to his assessment, the SPI needs to respond to the market as quickly as possible. “The risk of discontinued operations at the Port of Itajaí is imminent. Due to the insecurity created while these processes drag on in both the administrative and judicial spheres, port users (importers and exporters) and shipowners seek alternatives to avoid having their business paralyzed by logistical inefficiency,” he analyzes.

All alternatives available cause trauma, says Eclésio, because of logistical adjustments companies would need to make and additional costs generated in moving operations to different locations. With importers leaving the port, he foresees that, in November, there will be no more ships berthing at Itajaí, and regaining their confidence would be a challenging task. “It is unacceptable that a port of this magnitude is going through such dark moments,” lamented him.

Antaq temporary suspension

Recently, Antaq suspended the two simplified selection processes launched for the temporary lease of the port. One refers to berths 1 and 2, won by CTIL Logística, which would take the place of APM Terminals, and another to berths 3 and 4, on the public pier, intended for general cargo.

Antaq’s decision, which investigated a complaint from the current lessee, gave the SPI a deadline to prove CTIL’s technical and operational capacity to take on the terminal. According to Antaq’s general director, Eduardo Nery, what needs to be demonstrated is whether the future contractor can maintain operational capacity, not only for handling containers but also for attracting new cargo and having a minimum throughput.

For Facisc, the suspension of the processes gives leeway for the SPI to negotiate the permanence of  APM on a provisional basis until 2023, after the expiration of the current contract, whose term comes to an end on December 31. Afraid of the interruption of services, the business organizations await a position from the port on the company’s permanence.

“The instability generated in the market is enormous, especially because APM needs to guarantee the continuity of operations to shipowners. If there is no guarantee, the chances that these shipowners will transfer their lines to other terminals, such as Navegantes and Itapoá, are very high,” highlights the president of Facisc, Sérgio Rodrigues Alves.

APM offer

APM Terminals confirmed it made a new proposal to the municipality about two weeks ago. The offer consisted of the payment of the minimum fixed amount of BRL 2 million plus a variable value for the public area if it were to be used. The proposal is half of that bid by CTIL (BRL 4 million) for the economic exploitation of berths 1 and 2.

APMT had not participated in the stopgap selection process, although it had expressed interest in keeping the operations. The negotiations before the city of Itajaí launched the contest revolved around changed financial conditions at around BRL 500 thousand per month. The municipality did not accept the initial conditions.

Then stopgap selection process ended with the victory of CTIL Logística, which was approved by SPI but still hinges on the approval of Antaq. In addition to being able to lead operations at the port, the contract’s winner must attract new customers and expand existing operations.

The superintendent of the Port of Itajaí, Fábio da Veiga, highlighted that the demand of the business association, albeit commendable because of the sector’s need for legal and logistical security, is “extemporaneous.”

“When APM submitted the grant proposal at BRL 1.9 million, the simplified selection process had already been finalized and forwarded to Antaq,” he recalled. As for whether Antaq’s decision would encourage SPI to reconsider the company’s proposal, Fábios says this understanding is faulty.

“Negotiating directly with APM will only be discussed if Antaq does not approve the process won by CTIL,” he observes. The superintendent claims that the legal status has not changed despite the suspension of the process.

With that, he emphasizes that it is now necessary to await the outcome of the Antaq process. Fábio points out that the agency has not yet considered the case’s merits, including whether CTIL, the competition winner, will be able to sign the contract.

Fábio informed that the meeting wanted by the business association will happen. Fábio recalls that the municipality has always been open to dialogue, respecting different positions and the legality of the processes.

Source: Diarinho

To read the full original article, please go to:–alertam-empresarios

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