As Chilean exports diversify to reach all time highs and internal demand leads one of the fastest economic expansions on the continent, Chile’s two major ports have become some of the most important in Latin America.
The latest annual report issued by the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC, or CEPAL for its Spanish name) showed a marked increase in traffic at the ports of Valparaíso and San Antonio,despite global economic instability.
According to the ECLA, the port of Valparaíso was the 13th most significant in Latin America last year in terms of container traffic, confirming that city’s position as the nation’s top port.
In concrete terms, Valparaíso moved a total of 973,000 TEUs – the unit used to measure cargo traffic, equivalent to one container of 1,360 cubic feet (38.5 m3) – of cargo, representing an increase of 10.7 percent in respect to 2010.
Chief Executive of the Port of Valparaíso Harald Jaeger told El Mercurio that the port’s focus on efficiency, services for various cargo types, and reliability had contributed to the surge in traffic.
“We have generated confidence with our clients, given that the port offers continual operation, without protests that suspend activities, and high standards of efficiency, including at stages of high demand,” Jaeger said.
Teodoro Wigodski, professor of industrial engineering at the Universidad de Chile, told El Mercurio that Valparaíso’s high standing was achieved because of the stiff competition from other ports in Chile, leading to a vast expansion of logistical facilities and infrastructure at the port.
The Chilean ports of San Antonio (853,806 TEUs in 2011), also located in the Valparaíso Region, and San Vicente (425,967 TEUs), in the Biobío Region, also made the top 30 list, coming in at 17th and 27th, respectively.
The list was headed by the ports of Colón and Balboa in Panamá, which transferred 3.3 and 3.2 million TEUs of cargo respectively, followed by Santos in Brazil, which moved 2.9 million TEUs.