Uruguay , Paraguay and Argentina

Argentina waterway toll irks Uruguay and Paraguay

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, January 05, 2023
Argentina waterway toll irks Uruguay and Paraguay

Asunción and Montevideo are opposing cargo toll charged by Buenos Aires for use of a 1,180km stretch of the Paraná-Paraguay waterway.

On January 1, Argentina’s port agency AGP started charging Paraguayan vessels that use the Confluencia-Santa Fe stretch US$1.47/t, claiming the funds are needed for dredging and signaling works.

The waterway is used by around 20,000 vessels per year and the toll was announced in September.

“There’s no compensation [for Paraguay] that justifies charging this toll,” Paraguay’s economic relations and integration deputy minister Enrique Franco told TV channel Gen, adding the stretch in question doesn’t even need dredging.

He also said Bolivia supports Paraguay, and Brazil is expected to join soon.

Enrique Duarte, the head of production, industry and trade association Feprinco, told Gen earlier this week the toll would cost Paraguay around US$50mn per year.

He claimed Argentina was also violating a treaty signed by Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, which benefit from the waterway.

Signed in 1992, the treaty guarantees free circulation of all vessels.

Duarte urged authorities to reciprocate, as Argentina’s move could hurt Paraguayan exports and increase import costs.


Paraguay’s woes could directly affect Montevideo port, which receives and handles for further shipping 90% of Paraguayan exports via waterway. 

Citing anonymous sources, daily El Observador reported that Uruguayan port players deem the toll an effort to slow the country’s port development, referring to previous measures like a 2013 ban by Argentina that prohibited its cargo vessels from using Montevideo port, which was the more efficient and cheaper option for exporters. 

The ban was reversed two years later. 

Montevideo port handled a record 1MTEUs in 2022, partially due to the recovery of Paraguayan cargo on the waterway, according to Uruguay’s port agency ANP.

In 2021, the government and port operator Terminal Cuenca del Plata, owned by Belgium’s Katoen Natie, carried out a US$455mn expansion to reach double the capacity of Buenos Aires port.

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