Foreign Trade: Delays and Rising Costs Expected

A few days before the expiration of the crane service contract in Guatemala's Port of Santo Tomas de Castilla, local exporters expect a possible scenario of rising costs and slower operations.

Monday, August 17, 2020

The crane service contract was in force for 10 years and will expire on September 6. So far, businessmen do not know clearly what is the status of the tender, which the National Port Company Santo Tomas de Castilla (Empornac), must make to award the contract.

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After Byron Francisco Pineda Peña was unexpectedly dismissed as president of the Board of Directors of Empornac on August 13, an atmosphere of uncertainty has been generated.

Amador Carballido, general director of the Guatemalan Exporters Association (Agexport), told that "... We all know that the deadline was going to expire and it is not a surprise what is happening. The new authority assigned this year goes in knowing that, was warned and comes to August and is still unresolved'."

According to the Agexport representative, if the problem is not resolved promptly, the users of the maritime terminal will have to face a scenario in which the shipping companies will establish higher costs due to delays, since the ship's cranes are less effective than those on land.

Juan Pablo Carrasco, president of the Guatemalan-American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), explained that "... a viable solution must be sought, and above all one that does not put the import and export of goods at risk, as well as a transparent process."

If the required measures are not taken quickly, the movement of cargo in the country could fall into a serious situation, agree both business leaders.

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How to Resolve Congestion in Santo Tomas

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Guatemalan exporters and authorities at Puerto Santo Tomas de Castilla are working together to find solutions to the congestion affecting the port terminal.

The Department of Competitiveness at the Guatemalan Association of Exporters (Agexport) and representatives of the port terminal started holding meetings last week to develop a road map, which will focus on improving traceability of cargo and the clearance of merchandise.

Santo Tomás Forecasts Increase in Maritime Cargo

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Due to a recovery of customers and the start-up of a new route, the port terminal in Guatemala expects to mobilize 320,000 containers this year, 8% more than in 2017.

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Guatemala: Economic Disaster Caused by Customs Blockades

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The union of exporters has reported losses of $145 million, and more than 12,000 shipping containers held up because of the blockades which have now been going on for more than a week.

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A feasibility study has been started on a freight system between the Pacific ports of the region using shallow draft boats.

Launched six years ago, the project has now been reactivated in response to the need to seek alternatives to the increase in freight rates.

The goal is "to accelerate intraregional trade, by eliminating the passing through customs, as happens with land transport."

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