Public Law, Project Finance and Regulatory

Is Brazil’s ports minister getting privatization ideas in Europe?

While speculation about the privatization of São Paulo’s Santos Port Authority, which manages Brazi l’s largest port, intensified, an auction is far from assured.

Speculation gained traction as ports and airports minister Marcio França met with port and airport authorities in Europe. França also visited Antwerp port.

While the trip is supported by Brazilian private port terminal association ATP, a spokesperson told BNamericas that the association was not trying to sway França.

“The idea of the visit is to show how ports work in Europe, which have very advanced models, including many using trucks running on green hydrogen for internal transportation,” the spokesperson said.

“In my view, an Official visit like this is important to evaluate the options. It is worth remembering that in Europe the model still prevails in which port authorities are public, although structured under a corporate model, and the main examples, such as Rotterdam and Antwerp, can serve as inspiration for a possible new modeling configuration to be adopted for ports in Brazil,’ Paulo Dantas, an infrastructure and project finance specialist at law firm Castro Barros Advogados, told BNamericas.

When França announced the trip, Brazilian newspapers reported that operators would try to convince him to advance ports concessions.

França is strongly opposing port concessions and privatizations, but governor Tarcisio Gomes de Freitas, who served as infrastructure minister in the previous administration, wants to privatize SPA. Gomes de Freitas has talked to several ministers about the matter.

In Europe, França will also visit two subsea tunnels. A subsea tunnel is one option for a planned connection between Santos and Guaruja cities.