• Riverine not trans-Andean transport. (Photo: Port of Jennefer)

16.06.2022 By: Christian Doepgen

Artikel Nummer: 41256

Training for exports

Upsurge in Bolivian trade thanks to Unctad scheme, international status, infrastructure.

Inland waterways are crucial for Bolivia, one of Latin America’s two landlocked countries. Access to international trade via the Paraná River from the port of Jennefer became lucrative through infrastructure improvements, and thanks to qualified employees.

When three Bolivian river ports were granted international status in 2018 this not only represented a turning point for domestic trade, but also opened up a new opportunities for international exports via the 3,000 km Paraguay / Paraná waterways leading to the Atlantic Ocean.

Commenting on these recent developments, Bismark Rosales, the general manager of the Bolivian inland port of Jennefer, said that “my country has great volumes of soybeans and cement for export, amongst other things, but we couldn’t compete in international markets, due to extremely expensive logistics to neighbouring countries’ maritime ports.”

Overland leg across the Andes

Without direct access to global deepsea routes, importers and exporters operating in Bolivia had to rely on neighbouring nations such as Chile to trade with the world. Difficult routes across the Andes on the way to said maritime gateways often made the overland leg to the Pacific Ocean coast the most expensive part of the entire transport route.

In the years since 2018 the volume of international cargo transported on inland waterways (exports and imports) has increased by approximately 62%, coming to around 2.1 million t in 2021.

Two prerequisites encouraged success

Two conditions were decisive. Firstly, the inland port was expanded – a new industrial area and a terminal were added –, and the 11 km Tamengo Canal was dredged, thus improving access to the Paraguay /Paraná waterway system.

Secondly the hub joined Unctad’s ‘Train for Trade’ port management programme in 2016. Trained professionals and improved infrastructure thus made success possible.


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