The Government of Paraguay announced Friday that it will be seeking an international arbitrage within the South American Common Market (Mercosur) to settle the dispute with Argentina over the charging of tolls to barges sailing through the Paraná River Waterway.
Within the scope of Mercosur, we have decided to file a lawsuit on what is established in the Treaty of Asuncion, for non-compliance of rules without free circulation, President Santiago Peña said during a press conference in Mburuvicha Róga.
We are requesting arbitration within the scope of the Paraguay-Parana waterway. This has the support of four countries, it is not only a Paraguayan proposal, it is also being supported by Bolivia, Uruguay, and Brazil, he added.
Peña, whose message confirmed earlier statements by Foreign Minister Rubén Ramírez in the same regard after meeting Thursday with Argentine Ambassador Domingo Peppo, insisted his administration's initiative was grounded on the 1992 Waterway River Transport Agreement signed by Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
The Paraguayan top diplomat had summoned Buenos Aires' representative to protest against the irregular retention of a convoy of ten barges in a section of the river corridor where toll is collected. The company Mercurio Group S.A. had complained that vessels carrying fuel were detained by the Argentine Coast Guard.
The waterway represents for Paraguay the most important highway because 80% of our incoming and outgoing trade of national products goes through this route, governing us under the international treaty of the waterway. We are not unaware of the possibility of charging tolls, but we do reject that this be done unilaterally, as Argentina has been doing, President Peña underlined.
The head of state also said his country was going through a problem regarding the flow of payment to be made on the Yacyretá Binational Entity. We have accumulated close to US$ 150 million in debts, he pointed out.
He also highlighted that it was thanks to Paraguay's support that Argentina was granted US$ 7,500 million from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and said his country would no longer provide any conformity to Buenos Aires in any multilateral organization.
We understand the difficult economic situation of Argentina, but we must defend the national interests and those of each Paraguayan, Peña stressed.