Weather and trade issues lie in the way of Paraguay's river trade, which is causing concern in Asunción for a country whose economy is heavily dependent on these waterways.
According to National Administration of Navigation and Ports (ANNP) Navigation Manager Rodolfo Gómez, the Paraguay River is currently not 100% navigable, and the main problem is in the southern part of the country, near the city of Pilar, specifically at Travesía Queso, Puerto Queso and Vuelta Queso.
Gómez explained that pre-dredging work is already underway to set up a canal in the coming days so that the dynamics of rain transport can move forward. The official also admitted that 80% of national trade is handled through the river, so low water levels mean serious trouble.
Right now we have the problem in Vuelta Queso, Travesía Queso, and Puerto Queso so the Paraguay River is not 100% navigable. This is cyclical and when the Bermejo [river] drains we are always having problems, Gómez said.
In this scenario, Paraguayan authorities also face an additional challenge from Argentina, who decided to charge a river toll at Santa Fe for traffic through the Paraná river, thus increasing the yearly costs of exports by around US$ 55 million. Hence, over 50 Paraguayan business chambers asked President Mario Abdo Benítez for mirror retaliatory measures against Buenos Aires, it was reported.
Paraguay's Federation of Production, Industry, and Commerce (Feprinco), demanded the Abdo administration to adopt the necessary measures for the immediate rectification of the toll of 1.47 dollars per ton of net registration levied since Jan. 1 to all vessels navigating the waterway between Santa Fe and Confluencia. Grains, especially soybeans, go down the Paraná in barges to Uruguayan and Argentine ports and factories.
This imposition represents a violation of the bilateral rules between Argentina and Paraguay, which will mean an extra cost for importing and exporting companies in Paraguay, affecting the whole logistic cost of our country, said the Federation in a statement signed by 57 Paraguayan trade chambers.