Cabotage gains new incentive with cost reduction

The Federal Government reduced the import tax for vessels destined for cabotage operations in Brazil. With this, the expectation is to reduce by 40% the cost to import a specific vessel for this segment. The measure is part of ‘BR do Mar’, a plan that aims to boost maritime cargo transportation along the Brazilian coast.

Today, the import tax rate for vessels is 14%. But with the plans to encourage cabotage, which should be revealed with the disclosure of the BR do Mar, the issue has been analysed by the Foreign Trade Chamber (Camex), which approved the elimination of the tax.

The measure was announced and celebrated by the Minister of Infrastructure, Tarcísio Gomes de Freitas. For him, the Government’s decision is “a huge nod to those who are willing to invest in the sector, create jobs, move the entire production chain and contribute to expand the participation of the cabotage matrix in Brazil’s transport matrix”.

For port consultant Fabrizio Pierdomenico, the measure is also welcome. “This is the first step in making cabotage an important modal. I always say that it competes directly with the road mode. So as long as it is not cheaper, faster, more efficient, more competitive with freight and road documentation, cabotage will be at a disadvantage”.

On the other hand, the consultant points out the risk of the measure having side effects. The idea, according to Pierdomenico, is that the tax exemption lasts from 12 to 24 months.

“The problem is to stop using Brazilian shipyards to manufacture these vessels. But I don’t see how not to do that in the short term”, said the expert. He points out that the measure is valid since, “if the intention is to give a supply shock in lines, it is necessary to have ship”.

Other measures

Pierdomenico believes that BR do Mar has to resolve other issues to boost cabotage. One of them is the issue of bunker oil, the fuel of navigation, considered one of the obstacles to the development of the modal. “The bunker represents a huge cost. There has to be different treatment for cabotage”, he said.

The BR do Mar may be published through a bill or a Provisional Measure (MP).The idea is that ships carrying cargo through cabotage will have a differentiated treatment, which can guarantee a reduction in bureaucracy and agility compared to long-haul shipping, which will not have a revision of standards and regulation.

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