SAO PAULO, March 20 Container shipper Maersk
Line, a unit of Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk, wants
to compete in auctions to run port terminals in northern Brazil,
if they ever occur, an executive said on Thursday.
Legal hurdles have kept private operators from bidding on
new port concessions, a step considered essential to improving
the efficiency of South America's largest economy.
"There are projects in Suape, near Recife, and in Manaus but
the concessions have been delayed," said Peter Gyde, president
of Maersk Line in Brazil. "We are interested in participating as
a group, but we need the concessions to happen."
He told Reuters the northern and northeastern regions have
the most potential to grow in Brazil, but that they also have
the worst infrastructure.
Ports are proving to be one of the most challenging pieces
in Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's $100 billion plan to
upgrade infrastructure with private capital. After some initial
problems, auctions to operate roads and airports have gained
momentum and were hotly contested last year.
Ports Minister Antonio Henrique Silveira told Reuters in
February that auctions would start in the first half of 2014,
despite objections from a federal audit court.
Gyde said the benefits of private investment were already
seen at Brazil's largest port, Santos, with the inauguration of
private terminals BTP and Embraport. But he said access to the
port needed to be improved.
Long lines of trucks hauling bulk grains routinely form on
the highways outside of Santos despite new holding lots meant to
smooth over the transfer process.
Grain trading firms in Brazil, the world's top exporter of
soybeans, also have their eyes on new shipping routes through
the northeast that would cut freight costs from central Brazil
to Santos in the southeast.
(Reporting by Roberta Vilas Boas; Additional reporting and
writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Paul Simao)