The Paraná-Paraguay waterway system begins in Puerto Cáceres, Brazil, passes through Bolivia and Paraguay, and ends in the Río de la Plata, shared by Argentina and Uruguay. From end to end, it is longer than the US-Mexico border. But the waterway isn’t just important because of its length. It is also one of landlocked Paraguay’s main ways of reaching international trade routes.
When Argentina began to charge a toll on a stretch of the waterway at the start of the year, it generated unprecedented levels of tension in a region unaccustomed to differences. Paraguay rejected the imposition of the toll, arguing that it violated the common legislation of the waterway and impeded free circulation on the rivers. Argentina defended the charge, claiming that it had carried out maintenance work and that it had the right to impose the fees, according to the same laws that Paraguay cited to reject it.
On Wednesday, after more than a month at loggerheads and two days of negotiations at the Brazilian embassy in Buenos Aires, the parties reached a truce. Sources from the Argentine and Paraguayan foreign ministries said the agreement should ease the tensions between the two countries.
The agreement bears the signatures of senior foreign ministry officials from Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. The countries agreed that toll collection will not be suspended, but Argentina will not go to court over late payments for the next 60 days. During that time, they have agreed to set up a technical committee to analyze the toll rate.