Indefinite Customs strike disrupts trade through Chile

SANTAIGO/LA PAZ – An indefinite strike declared by Chile’s customs association, ANFACH, is causing disruption and delays top freight movement up and down its 6,000 km-long Pacific coastline.

Around 850 Bolivian trucks were stuck at the border unable to cross into Chile on Wednesday.

The open-ended action has been called over several issues including staffing levels, working hours and retirement benefits.

Union representatives say the government has failed to honor protocols it signed regarding these issues in May 2015 and November 2016.

Striking workers number around 1,900.

Speaking to the press, the president of Bolivia’s exporters chamber, Wilfredo Rojo, and Gustavo Rivadeneira, the president of Bolivia’s heavy transport chamber, said that the move prevented the freedom of movement agreed between Bolivia and Chile in 1904.

Rojo said that the strike prevented Bolivia from moving goods worth five million U.S. dollars a day to and from Chile.

“Movement along this route reaches over 5 million U.S. dollars a day nationally. These are very high figures, which means the private sectors will lose markets…and the paralysis of the entire supply chain. It has always been complicated for Bolivia to depend on Chilean ports,” said the exporter.

Last year, the Bolivian heavy transport sector lost around 15 million U.S. dollars due to Chilean customs strikes, without counting the losses for exporters and importers.