| SAO PAULO
SAO PAULO May 5 Brazil may revise public port
regulations to lengthen operators' contracts and encourage
improvements, officials told Reuters, in an effort to attract
more private investment in infrastructure that is crucial to the
country's powerhouse farm sector.
Building on the success of recent airport and power line
auctions , President Michel Temer's
government is hoping to add capacity at ports exporting
commodities from sugar and coffee to soy at some of the world's
Samuel Cavalcanti, superintendent of licensing for federal
ports agency Antaq, said new rules may increase the duration of
an operator's first license to 35 years and allow it to be
repeatedly extended for up to 70 years. Current rules grant a
first license of 25 years, with one extension of 25 years.
The new rules, which may be published this month, would also
make it easier for private investors to expand capacity and
carry out work such as dredging in common port areas, he said in
a recent interview.
Tarcísio de Freitas, coordinator of the government's
Investment Partnership Program, said a presidential decree will
make early licensing renewal and bidding for contracts at public
ports "more agile," without giving details of the decree.
The new regulations aim to build on commitments to invest
some 9 billion reais ($2.84 billion), which 12 operators have
made in return for early renewal of their licenses since Brazil
enacted its latest port law in 2013, according to Antaq.
Many hailed that legislation for allowing early license
renewals in return for investments and removing restrictions on
third-party cargo at private container terminals, but shipping
industry executives see room for improvement.
Despite recent investments, Brazil still ranks 55th among
160 countries in the World Bank's Logistics Performance Index.
Industry group Abtra, which represents 60 port operators,
has complained that ambiguity about expired licenses is holding
back investments in port areas conceded to private initiative
before 1993. Cavalcanti said the government was looking at how
to adapt those contracts to encourage new investments.
Clythio Buggenhout, Brazil ports director at Cargill Inc
, said some investments are on hold because only a
fraction of the requests for early license renewals were
granted, due in part to rules centralizing decisions in the
"Port administration authority should fall on regional
entities because of Brazil's continental dimensions," he said.
Antaq said the draft of the proposed new rules does not
address proposals for decentralization.
($1 = 3.16 reais)
(Additional reporting by Leonardo Goy in Brasilia; Editing by
Brad Haynes and Matthew Lewis)