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Shipping agents await the normalization of freight payments

The Shipping Center met with the authorities of the Central Bank to discuss the exchange restrictions affecting the activity of shipping agents acting on behalf of the shipping companies that provide the international transportation of goods.

Specifically, the transfer of dollars for the payment of freights was totally affected by the foreign exchange restrictions introduced by the former Minister of Economy, Sergio Massa, which cut off the possibility of canceling the service locally in pesos and forced the shipping lines to charge it in dollars abroad.

The institution reminded that, apart from being the shipowner’s legal representative to carry out all technical and administrative operations related to the vessel and its cargo, the shipping agent is also the shipowner’s representative for “the collection of freight and other services provided to the beneficiary customers, funds that are then remitted by the shipping agent to the shipowner providing the international transport service”.

Violated activity

However, since 2023, a series of measures that violated the daily activity of the agents have weighed on the activity, such as those established by Communications “A” 7746 and 7771 of the Central Bank, which modified the Foreign and Exchange regulations and “prevented the normal remittance of freight by applying a ninety (90) days parking”, while at the same time it forced to have an approved SIRASE for freight and transport services (S02 and S04, respectively).

“The repeal of such measure was timely requested by our institution, as well as by the rest of the chambers that make up the total logistics chain and productive sector in the country,
namely, CERA (Exporters), CIRA (Importers), AAACI (freight forwarders) and Centro de Despachantes de Aduana”, indicated from the entity in a note addressed to the president and director of the Central Bank, Santiago Bausili and Pedro Inchauspe, respectively.

Later, communication “A” 7780 modified the code S02 and divided it into S30 and S31, distinguishing between import and export freight services. But both were still obliged to process the SIRASE and there was no criterion or priority for the transfer of foreign currency for either of the two codes.

More expensive

The stumbling block became more complex when the PAIS Tax was applied to freight and other transportation services for foreign trade, with a 7.5% tax rate, which was later increased to 17.5% with DNU 29/23.

“Upon the assumption of the new government, by means of Communication “A” 7917, the BCRA eliminated the SIRASE requirement to access the foreign exchange market effective December 13, 2023. However, the regulation provided that import freight payments may be paid only to the extent that the remaining applicable regulatory requirements are met, and the payment is made after the following period has elapsed, from the date of payment, from the date on which the payment is made, to the date on which the payment is made.
the date of rendering of the service, a term equivalent to which the transported good could be paid”, explained from the Navigation Center.

In other words, the cancellation of the freight was “conditioned to compliance with the beginning of the authorized term to comply with the payment of the transported cargo, which varies, based on the type of cargo in question, being able to be paid from its customs entry registration, 30 days later or 180 days later (the latter term is always applicable between linked, which affects above all international container transport operations)”.

Multiple criteria

“Likewise -they continued- with respect to export freights, commercial banks do not maintain an univocal criterion by which the access to the foreign exchange market is guaranteed to comply with the payment of these freights for the transportation provided by a counterparty not related to the resident, once thirty (30) days have elapsed from the date of rendering or accrual of the service”.

The institution again requested “that the regulatory framework return to the status quo ante”, allowing “the free transfer of foreign exchange corresponding to all and the same water transportation service, for the sole reason that all its components are part of the same international transportation contract”, at the same time they stressed that “the impediment of the free remittance of international freights has caused that several maritime companies have taken the decision to collect their freights only abroad, generating an increase in freight costs for our exporters and importers (producers and consumers), since this forces them to comply with payments in foreign currency abroad, instead of being able to do it in our country”.

Latent risks

Among the consequences long pointed out, they emphasized the possibility that maritime companies “may choose to skip our ports as a stopover in their itineraries, making the costs of our foreign trade even more expensive, turning Argentina into a “Dirty Port”, harming the interests of the actors that make up the logistics and productive chain, with loss of competitiveness for imports and exports, thus damaging national production and regional economies, which could lead to shortages, loss of supplies, loss of thousands of jobs and the loss of jobs in the maritime sector.
This could lead to shortages, the loss of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in foreign currency for our country, paradoxically generating the diametrically opposite effect to the one supposedly sought by the system”.

The shipping agents requested the exclusion of freight and transport services “from any restriction to access the free exchange market, for the purpose of the cancellation of their payment” so as to be able to freely transfer remittances to the shipowners who provide the service, “without
be subject to the fulfillment of any term or condition”.

In short, the request is the return to normal operations in foreign exchange matters for the sector that allows the materialization of Argentina’s foreign trade.

Link: https://tradenews.com.ar/los-agentes-maritimos-aguardan-la-normalizacion-del-pago-de-los-fletes/

Source: Trade News