Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero Wednesday denied his country had any hypothesis of conflict with Paraguay despite recent controversies over tolls collected from barges sailing along the Paraná River Waterway and Asunción canceling all electricity supply from the Yacyretá hydroelectric power plant.
They are neighboring and brother countries that want to develop together. And there is no type of hypothesis of conflict that will make us change our point of view, Cafiero argued in Buenos Aires before the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee.
Landlocked Paraguay is complaining Argentina charging US$ 1.47 per ton of international cargo to vessels using the waterway to reach the Atlantic Ocean, which is Paraguay's way of handling 80% of its transactions abroad.
Cafiero also mentioned a principle of agreement reached Wednesday during a meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of the Waterway (CIH), made up of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay, where it was accepted that a retributive fee was necessary to finance the dredging and signaling of the waterway.
”In the Argentine-Paraguayan relationship, we are not defined by a toll. We are reaching an agreement (...) We are in a negotiation process. We understand that we are reaching a good destination. Today was a good meeting, he highlighted.
According to Paraguay's Foreign Ministry, it was agreed at the CIH meeting that Argentina will refrain from seizing barges for 60 days despite their failure to pay the toll while a final understanding is reached. While Paraguay, together with Bolivia, Brazil, and Uruguay, maintained their stance rejecting the toll on the grounds that it violated current international law, it was rumored that all parties had accepted to focus on the price of the charge.
Cafiero also said a solution had been worked out for the payment on the part of Argentina for the Yacyretá energy consumed. What we ended up agreeing today is to move forward with the payment of the debt for the energy that we had bought last year, some US$ 36 million, in three installments of US$ 12 million. There is a payment plan,” he explained.
The minister also said his country had invited Paraguayan authorities to discuss last July's incident involving the arrest of fishermen operating in boundary river waters both nations claimed to own.