The main players in the export and import sectors are working in a coordinated manner to urgently identify effective solutions to the logistic issues that have driven up food prices worldwide and severely impacted Chile and its global trade partners. Important progress has already been made, as meetings have been held with the Ministries of Transportation and Economy. This type of coordination between the public and private sectors is unprecedented in Chile.
Key players in the logistics chain, including the National Chamber of Commerce (CNC), the National Corporation of Consumers and Users (Conadecus), the Food Export Council, the Fruit Exporters Association of Chile (ASOEX), the Federation of Fruit Producers of Chile (Fedefruta) and port logistics operators, are working with carriers, drivers, and workers from the ports of Valparaíso and San Antonio, who have expressed their intention to help evaluate and define, together with the authorities, the measures that must be implemented to untangle the logistics issues facing Chile. In this way, Chile will be able to guarantee timely arrivals of top-quality fruit to its global partners.
It has been acknowledged that, while logistical issues further escalated due to the pandemic and the war between Russian and Ukraine, the national solution to the problem involves taking short and medium-term measures to improve efficiency of Chilean ports, solving the shortage of workers throughout the logistics chain, and finding a way to mitigate the rise in shipping rates, among other issues.
One of the measures being considered is the authorization of the Port of Ventanas to receive cargo ships. Other measures include giving priority to food and strategic supplies in port operations, making chamber ships available in the Valparaíso and Coquimbo terminals and the ports of the Eighth Region, and modifying the wave height restrictions in the port of San Antonio, which would facilitate the arrival and departure of more ships.
Chile’s Minister of Economy, Nicolás Grau, commented that “there is permanent coordination with the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications to address these challenges prior to the months of greatest demand between November 2022 and April 2023.” He added that “We are working on relaunching the Collaborative Logistics Plan for Foreign Trade (PLC), which involves public-private collaboration, and participation by multiple players throughout the logistics chain.”
The president of Conadecus, Hernán Calderón, expressed his concern about how this crisis is impacting consumers. He estimated that “the serious logistics crisis, which affects the entire country, puts the prices of food and essential goods at risk, affecting the entire population in an inflationary context that is alarming and where urgent solutions are needed to protect those in greatest need.”
For his part, the president of ASOEX, Ronald Bown, stated that “the loss of fruit and the uncertainty generated by the inability to have fruit arrive on time to international clients is generating a crisis that affects the image of Chile as a premier global supplier. This severely jeopardizes Chile’s place as the main producer-exporter of fresh fruit in the southern hemisphere and fifth largest worldwide. Therefore, we are looking for urgent solutions from the joint efforts of the public-private sectors. We are off to a great start. We have all the right partners sitting at the table to solve the main issues, and we are confident that during the upcoming season we will return to pre-pandemic levels of service.”
Claudio Cilveti, president of the Food Export Council, highlighted the need to strengthen the logistics chain for recovery of the export sector that was hit hard by the pandemic. He explained that foreign food exports reach US$18 billion annually, so “a robust management model must be put in place to meet commitments with destination countries, stimulate foreign trade, promote production and increase the supply of products, thus promoting the growth of the country’s employment and economy at a time when it is most needed.”
Finally, the president of the CNC, Ricardo Mewes, stressed that “the increase in fuel costs, along with alterations in routes and shipping capacity, puts greater pressure on freight rates, which has impacted the cost of imports. In the commercial sector, where most products are imported, it is the final consumer, that is, people and their families who are already facing pressure from inflation, who are impacted.”