Port investment in Latin America: a leap towards the future competitiveness of the industry

May 4 2022

Ambitious investment projects in infrastructure, technology and equipment are contemplated by the most important port hubs of the continent, both in the medium and long term.
More than 1,500 port facilities are located in Latin American countries. With different characteristics, complexities and magnitudes, these facilities dedicated to the maritime exchange of goods and services, speaks of a region active in logistics, which has led processes of modernization and constant improvement to connect with the world through their ports.

Nowadays, the port activity is one of the economic engines of progress for Latin America, a market in constant development that offers great possibilities for expansion and growth in the future.

For this year - and despite uncertain global scenarios - the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected economic growth of 2.5% for Latin America and the Caribbean, ratifying the potential of a region that after the pandemic has been recovering its pace.

This favorable scenario also has a positive impact on the port sector, which is currently implementing and planning a series of initiatives to improve infrastructure and comprehensive technological solutions to further enhance the competitiveness of its port facilities and its countries.

These projects, key to the medium and long-term evolution of the sector, have attracted the interest of large investment groups that continue to bet on Latin America for their business. An opportunity that will find in the #AAPALatino a key place to connect it with the future of the region.

BRAZIL

The host country of the #AAPALatino 2022, has ambitious port plans in the medium term. The South America’s giant, through its National Secretary of Ports and Water Transport, Diogo Piloni, anticipated at the end of last year that about US$ 3.5 billion - about 20 billion reais - will be invested in port infrastructure improvement in that country.

According to Piloni, investments will be prioritized in the ports of Espírito Santo; São Sebastião (Sao Paulo); Itajaí; Santos and Bahia.

In the first one, in fact, operated by Codesa, the Brazilian government has completed the auction for the company's concession, expecting an investment of R $180 million, in a model that will be replicated in other ports under federal control.

In addition, the Brazilian government will initiate a round of presentations to raise potential investors for the port of Itajaí, where a controller will be sought for the next 35 years, with an expected investment of R $2.800 million, of which a third (some 200 million dollars) should be allocated to the construction of a new terminal and the purchase of equipment.

MEXICO

In mid-2021, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced an ambitious development plan for maritime ports and customs, which will finance up to US$4.385 billion in the medium term, thanks to a trust fund created for this purpose.

The plan will involve, in the short term, important investments such as an injection of 7 million dollars in the port of Manzanillo, to improve port-city connectivity, in addition to the announcement of another 30 million dollars that SSA Mexico will inject in equipment in the same port.

Another important initiative, which is currently seeking investment partners in the United States, is the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which will connect the ports of Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, and Salina Cruz by rail.

All of the above seeks to accompany the increase in the commercial exchange of this country with China in recent years, which has imposed the challenge of improving the existing port infrastructure.

URUGUAY

At the end of 2021, the Belgian consortium Katoen Natie began extension works at the Cuenca del Plata Terminal of the port of Montevideo, where it expects to invest a total of US$460 million as part of the concession of the main terminal of the Uruguayan capital, awarded for a 50-year term.

It will be the largest private investment in the history of the port of Montevideo, which includes dredging, paving, machinery renewal, a container esplanade and a new 700-meter pier.

Also in the Atlantic country, although in conjunction with Brazil, studies are currently continuing for the Lagoa Mirim waterway concession project in Rio Grande do Sul, known as the Brazil-Uruguay waterway. This initiative will involve an investment of US$ 6.3 million and will be the first river transport project to qualify under the Investment Partnerships Program, enabling -thanks to improvements in dredging and signaling- the strengthening of commercial vessel traffic between Lagoa Mirim and Lagoa dos Patos.

ECUADOR

This country is one of those that has seen the most important port investments in the region, mainly from the gradual consolidation of the deep water port of Posorja, operated by DP World Ecuador for a little more than two years and that in its development phases will sum up more than 1.2 billion dollars of investment.

Furthermore, this company has already advanced in the execution of 10 million dollars in the first phase of the Logistics and Industrial Park of Posorja under the modality SEDZ (Special Economic Development Zone), and that will involve about 60 million dollars of investment.

On the other hand, in the port of Bolivar, the operator Yilport is carrying out dredging works for close to US$ 8 million, in addition to the US$ 14 million invested in new RTG cranes, and the investment committed in the construction of the new pier 6 of this port complex, which will enable the handling of Post Panamax vessels, totaling approximately US$ 180 million.

Finally, in the country's main port hub, Guayaquil, TPG will carry out a major equipment renovation project, as part of which it will invest almost US$21 million in the purchase of cranes and process automation.

CHILE

In March, Terminal Portuario Valparaíso, related to the Agunsa Group, began operating Terminal 2 of the Port of Valparaíso, committing close to US$15 million as an investment in equipment leasing until 2026. This important Chilean port hub will bid for new works in 2029 in its two main terminals.

In San Antonio, currently the busiest port complex, the environmental process of the Outer Port project continues, in pursuit of initiating the bidding process for its first pier in 2023. The initiative contemplates investments of US$ 3,500 million -30% state-owned and 70% private- to build a mega-port capable of handling 6 million containers per year.

In this same port, San Antonio Terminal Internacional (STI), operated by SAAM and SSA Marine, announced an investment of US$ 9 million in equipment, in addition to the infrastructure improvement works to be executed this and next year -for almost US$ 47 million- within the framework of its concession extension.

The port complexes of Puerto Montt, Chacabuco and Punta Arenas, in the southern part of the country, continue to advance in their joint bidding process for their operations, which will allow them to modernize their equipment and infrastructure in the medium term.

COLOMBIA

President Iván Duque confirmed last March the beginning of Puerto Antioquia’s megaproject, located in the district of Turbo, in the Gulf of Urabá. "Puerto Antioquia will give the entire private sector of the department and Colombia a new exit to new export destinations," said the Colombian president.

Thus, on April 23 the "first stone" was laid for an initiative that will involve works for 672 million dollars in dredging, connectivity with Medellín and the construction of docks to handle ships of up to 14,000 TEUs.

Also in this country, in the port of Cartagena, Compas -which in 2021 already started investments for over US$ 30 million in operational improvements in Barranquilla-, took over 100% of the control of Cartagena Container Terminal Operator, which operated together with the Dutch APM Terminals during six years.

PERU

Another country that has been active in port investment in the region is Peru. Starting with the mega-port of Chancay, located 80 kilometers north of Callao, whose works have already begun with the investment of Cosco Shipping and Volcan, in a first stage for almost 1.2 billion dollars and which -by 2030- expects to complete around 3.6 billion dollars in new works, to move over 5 million containers.

Other ports such as Paita and Salaverry started major works. In Paita close to US$ 10 million were paid for the expansion -by 60 meters- of the marginal pier of Terminal Portuaria de Paita , in Piura, which will allow it to receive ships of up to 359 meters in length.

Meanwhile, another 7 million dollars were spent on the works of pier 2 of the Salaverry Multipurpose Port Terminal, whose modernization process will involve almost 35 million dollars in works and improvements.

In Callao, the country's main port complex, DP World is moving ahead with the expansion of the South Terminal, which completes almost 15% of its construction, and which will extend the infrastructure from 650 to 1,050 linear meters, allowing the simultaneous handling of 3 Neopanamax vessels and mobilizing almost 2 million TEUs per year. Including investments in cranes, equipment and modernization of processes, the project, which is expected to start operations by the end of 2023, will complete an investment of US$350 million.

ARGENTINA

Another country that has been active in port investment in the region is Peru. Starting with the mega-port of Chancay, located 80 kilometers north of Callao, whose works have already begun with the investment of Cosco Shipping and Volcan, in a first stage for almost 1.2 billion dollars and which -by 2030- expects to complete around 3.6 billion dollars in new works, to move over 5 million containers.

Other ports such as Paita and Salaverry started major works. In Paita close to US$ 10 million were paid for the expansion -by 60 meters- of the marginal pier of Terminal Portuaria de Paita , in Piura, which will allow it to receive ships of up to 359 meters in length.

Meanwhile, another 7 million dollars were spent on the works of pier 2 of the Salaverry Multipurpose Port Terminal, whose modernization process will involve almost 35 million dollars in works and improvements.

In Callao, the country's main port complex, DP World is moving ahead with the expansion of the South Terminal, which completes almost 15% of its construction, and which will extend the infrastructure from 650 to 1,050 linear meters, allowing the simultaneous handling of 3 Neopanamax vessels and mobilizing almost 2 million TEUs per year. Including investments in cranes, equipment and modernization of processes, the project, which is expected to start operations by the end of 2023, will complete an investment of US$350 million.

Source: PR PORTS LLC.

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