Region seeks to improve logistics routes

If there is any coincidence in the countries of Central America, it is its enviable location as a connection point in the American continent. Although there is another less encouraging coincidence: the isthmus is not taking full advantage of this advantageous condition.

The deployment of Central American logistical forces (by land, sea and air) has been limited by a slow process of regional integration, although the conditions for creating a robust sector persist, according to experts.

In the northern triangle of the region, expectations are high, as the first steps of a Customs Union between Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are about to be finalized.

Honduras is investing $145 million between 2017 and 2018 in the expansion of Puerto Cortes in the Atlantic, while El Salvador is looking for a new formula to activate the port of La Union, in the Gulf of Fonseca, and continues to remodel the international airport.

Further south, in Costa Rica, the Dutch company APM Terminals is building the maritime container terminal Moín, in Limón; and the construction of the International Metropolitan Airport in the municipality of Orotina, some 58 kilometers from the capital San José, is being discussed.

Panama is by far the nation with the greatest logistical muscle in the region. After investing more than $5.4 billion to widen the interoceanic waterway, the construction of Terminal 2 of Tocumen International Airport, which would cost $800 million and be operational in 2018, took off.

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But despite the expansions and investments in new projects, efforts in the region are insufficient. High logistics costs can represent up to 30% of the final price of goods, says Lidia Fromm Cea, executive director of the Mesoamerica Project, an organization that brings together the countries of Central America, Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Belize. However, the implementation part falls to the governments of these countries.

Among the projects that the region is already undertaking are the Mesoamerican Integration Corridor, two roads that run from southern Mexico to Panama. The Pacific corridor, which has a length of 3,244 kilometers, and a 66.7% advance; and the Atlantic, 2,906 kilometers, which has 24%.

One of the strategies to improve land transport would be to be clear about the routes.

Central America needs distribution centers with the capacity to serve 50 or 60 trucks simultaneously, equipped with state-of-the-art technology, says Fromm Cea.

Romero, from Praxis, adds that there is a need to better balance trade facilitation and customs control in the region.

At least in terms of logistics, there has also been a lack of aggressiveness in negotiating trade agreements. One example is the Free Trade Agreement with Mexico, which leaves out carriers.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

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Hopes for integration

The customs union agreement signed by Honduras and Guatemala, to which El Salvador and Nicaragua announced their accession, would change the logistical face of the region.

“In the customs union the concept of exports is replaced by the transfer of goods and the concept of imports is replaced by acquisitions. Instead of an import and export policy, a commercial invoice will be used to cover the movement, called Fyduca, which means Central American Unique Form and Documentation,” explains Rigoberto Monge, general coordinator of the Organization for the Support of the Productive Sector (ODASP) in El Salvador.

When fully operational, the effects of integration on freight transport will be felt in the region.

“Logistically, it is convenient for us because it would reduce this complex cross-border deadline. The queues at the borders have not necessarily diminished,” Romero said.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

Source: Periodico Virtual El Econimista

For more information visit:  http://www.eleconomista.net/2018/01/03/la-region-busca-la-mejor-ruta-logistica

 

Martha Castellanos

Martha Castellanos

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