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Chile, which plans to invest US$4.07bn in ports until 2030, will determine the location of a large-scale terminal next year, transport undersecretary Cristián Bowen said at BNamericas 5th South America Infrastructure Summit.
San Antonio and Valparaíso, Chile's two largest ports, are competing against each other to increase the country's capacity, amid a port demand forecast to grow 4-5% annually.
San Antonio has filed a US$2.1bn proposal to increase its capacity by 6mn TEU/y, while Valparaíso plans to raise capacity by 3mn TEU/y for an investment of US$1.23bn.
Both ports, located only 70km apart in central Chile, currently have a combined handling capacity of 2.3mn TEU/y. Expansions underway would increase that capacity by 2mn TEUs.
In short, the new large-scale port – which has been in the pipeline for years – could more than triple capacity in an area where one third of Chileans live.
"Large-scale ports are essential to meeting a country's demand for goods and increasing trade. It's not a question about competing with [Peru's] Callao or any other port. We need to understand the value of such an endeavor. If [we don't build the port], by 2025, San Antonio and Valparaíso will have a large backlog of ships waiting to be unloaded at any given time," Bowen said.
"Next year, we will determine [the port's] location. For now, it's a matter of deciding between San Antonio and Valparaíso. But if demand continues to increase, we may also consider a mixed system," Bowen told BNamericas in Bogotá.
George Marshall, president of Chile's maritime and port chamber Camport, asked that the decision to be made based on factors such as logistics, rather than on port infrastructure.
Together, San Antonio and Valparaíso handle 60% of the overall cargo moved by Chilean public ports.
Chile plans to invest US$4.07bn in ports until 2030, including in expanding existing ports, a tender currently underway to upgrade the Iquique port – which was hit by a severe quake this year – and this large-scale port project.