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Transportation in Brazil

Useful Links
Ministry of Transportation
DNIT - National Department of Infrastructure of Transportation (DNIT - Departamento Nacional de Infraestrutura de Transportes) - This is the federal executive body in charge of implementing the national policy. Information about roads, railways, waterways and ports. Probably the most comprehensive source of information about this subject - in Portuguese only
Terrestrial Transportation Agency (ANTT - Agencia Nacional de Transportes Terrestres) - Information about roads (federal and chartered), railways, transportation of passengers and cargoes, international transportation
Aquatic Transportation Agency (ANTAQ - Agencia Nacional de Transportes Aquaticos) - Information about ports, ships, fleets, etc
Civil Aviation Department (DAC - Departamento de Aviacao Civil) - Information about civil transportation. It's called a Department because aeronautics matters in Brazil are subordinated to the Ministry of Aeronautics, which is a division of the Ministry of Defense, which is controlled by the military. There have been talks about the creation of an ANTA - Agencia Nacional de Transporte Aereo, similar to ANTT and ANTAQ, with regulatory functions, but DAC has been successful in lobbying against it.
Infraero This state owned company designs, builds and operates the Brazilian airports

The infrastructure of transportation is very defficient in Brazil.
Most roads are old and have poor maintenaince; ports are old and operated under obsolete management techniques; railroads are few and uncompetitive.
Roads - and trucks - are the most used method of transportation in Brazil; despite of the existance of several rivers, wateways are very rarely used (the exception is the Amazon region, where rivers are usually the only way of access to many isolated villages); the use of trains for long distance transportation of passengers is restricted to a few touristic routes (urban trains exist in a few cities), while the cargo transportation (mostly restricted to minerals; much of the production of grains is transported by trucks) has been having not much official support.
Despite the efforts of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (see below), the matrix of transportation has been changing little. In 1993, 62% of the cargoes in Brazil were transported via roads, 23% via railroads, 11% via waterways and 4% via airways. In 1999, the distribution was: 62% roads, 20% railroads, 14% waterways, 4% airways.
President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002) knew that the deficiencies of this structure represented a burden for the Brazilian economy, and several projects aiming at straightening the several bottlenecks were proposed and included in the long term planifications of the country. During his government, FHC did the following: privatization of railroads; modernization of the ports (physical structure and related legislation); investment in waterways; chartering of roads to private parties; descentralization of the road maintenaince, assigned to the States governments.

All efforts, however, were not enough to make the Brazilian structure competitive, when compared with other countries'. Let's consider the case of soy, the main commodity exported by Brazil. A study by the
Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Manufacturers, from 2000, concluded that Brazilian producers have a significant disadvantage because of the defficiencies in transportation. In the USA, 89% of the price FOB of the sales go to the producers, while in Brazil the producers pocket only 79%; this happens because, in USA, 9% of the price is used to pay freights, while in Brazil the figure is 17%, and in Argentina only 8%; besides, in Brazil, 4% of the price is used to pay the port fees (twice as much as in the competing countries).
The difficulties of the Brazilian soy exporters are so summarized by the Association: "In Brazil, the defficiencies in the infrastructure of transportation (from the farms to the ports) and the high costs of portuary services (in Brazil, cost is US$ 7 per ton, while in Argentina it is US$ 3 per ton) represent a heavy burden to the farmers, who end up paying the costs by means of a reduction of the money effectively received by them. It is estimated that 67% of the Brazilian soy is transported by trucks, 28% by trains and only 5% by ships and similars. The average distance that the grains must travel until the nearest port is about 1,000 km, increasing transportation costs. In the USA, 61% of the soy is transported by vessels, allowing for a reduction in costs. In Argentina, 82% of the soy production is transported by trucks, but the distances until the ports are shorter. In average, the cost of transportation is US$ 28 per ton in Brazil, US$ 14 per ton in Argentina and US$ 15 per ton in the USA.
These differences in the costs of transportation and embarkment have a negative impact on the price effectively seen by producers. A producer in Parana, even being closer to the port, received (in 1999) an average of US$ 9.03 less than the Argentinan producer per ton of soy; this difference increases to US$ 33.82 per ton, for the producers of Mato Grosso. In 1999, in average, the soy producers in Argentina were paid US$ 179.50 per ton, while the producer from Parana got US$ 170.47 and the ones from Mato Grosso got only US$ 145.68 per ton.

This study clearly demonstrates how much (negative) influence the poor infrastructure of transportation has on Brazilian competitiveness.

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