Port operations

Approval

What government approvals are required in your jurisdiction for a port operator to commence operations following construction? How long does it typically take to obtain approvals?

Once works and constructions authorised by an undersecretary of ports’ preliminary declaration are finished, there should be a request to the undersecretary for technical approval.

After the office confirms that the developer has complied with the preliminary declaration and that the works were properly executed, the technical approval is issued, allowing the developer to request the final authorisation. With the final authorisation, the requesting party will be able to operate the port.

It is not possible to assess exactly how long obtaining the final authorisation of the Ministry of Transport to operate the port will take. But it should be issued by the Ministry of Transport once the undersecretary has issued both the preliminary declaration and the technical approval.

To analyse the relevant information the undersecretary will require the assistance of different governmental agencies, including, among others, the Naval Hydrography Service, the Ministry of Defence, the Coastguard, the Customs Office and the Secretary of Transport.

The undersecretary must submit the request for the final authorisation (including the reports issued by the corresponding administrative agencies) to the Ministry of Transport, with 60 days from the petitioner’s request being filed.

However, the undersecretary of ports usually does not comply with the above mentioned deadlines. Requests for final authorisations are generally evaluated by the undersecretary over several months. In practice, administrative procedures before the undersecretary usually take more than one year.

Moreover, Law No. 24,093 does not impose any deadline on the Ministry of Transport to issue the decree that will grant the final authorisation. For this reason, the final authorisation may be delayed. However, the Customs Office may grant temporary and precarious authorisations allowing petitioners to perform customs operations on ports while the final authorisation is pending.

Once the decree granting the final authorisation is issued, the Ministry of Transport has to communicate this to the Federal Congress within 10 days.

Typical services

What services does a port operator and what services does the port authority typically provide in your jurisdiction? Do the port authorities typically charge the port operator for any services?

Port operators generally provide the following services: charging and discharging, handling and storage of transported merchandise.

Port authorities typically charge for maintenance of the dock area in the Port of Buenos Aires.

Access to hinterland

Does the government or relevant port authority typically give any commitments in relation to access to the hinterland? To what extent does it require the operator to finance development of access routes or interconnections?

No. Sometimes the concessionaire may provide access.

Suspension

How do port authorities in your jurisdiction oversee terminal operations and in what circumstances may a port authority require the operator to suspend them?

Port authorities oversee terminal operations by requesting the filing of documentation and by conducting inspections. Suspension is unusual.

Port access and control

In what circumstances may the port authorities in your jurisdiction access the port area or take over port operations?

Takeover is unusual, since port authorities have free access.

Failure to operate and maintain

What remedies are available to the port authority or government against a port operator that fails to operate and maintain the port as agreed?

This will depend on the agreement. Usually, remedies are fines and termination of the agreement.

Transferrable assets

What assets must port operators transfer to the relevant port authority on termination of a concession? Must port authorities pay any compensation for transferred assets?

Usually they must return the same assets they received, including those incorporated to the port.