We now turn our attention to Argentina where we spoke to Alberto Trigub, Managing Partner of Pandi Liquidadores. Alberto and his firm have a proven track record of handling most of the major casualties involving pollution in Argentina and Uruguay, collisions and FFO claims. The firm acts as a pure P&I correspondent attending all ports in Argentina and Paraguay and has being listed as commercial correspondent for most P&I Clubs within de IGP&I plus a number of other international insurers. We would like to take this opportunity and thank Alberto for his prompt and straight forward replies.
1) What is the current situation and reality for the people of Argentina in terms of health and safety?
In fact, the Argentine Government took early measures in relation to the outbreak of Covid-19 by which an strict lockdown was impossed on 20th March when not only the international borders were closed but also the internal ones between one province and the other including cancellation of all domestic flights. In principle, they looked to slow down the outbreak of the Covid-19 in the country. Although during the first months this was achieved, over the last two weeks (we are now in winter time) there has been a peak of cases specially in the area known as AMBA (area metropolitana de Buenos Aires) which means the City of Buenos Aires and the greater Buenos Aires. Although we are under the longest lockdown around the world, the results at present are not as they were expected to be, that is, with a flat line of contagious and with less occupancy of ICUs.
2) How has Covid-19 affected the already tense political situation in Argentina and how hard has the Argentinian economy been hit by both?
The long lockdown has affected Argentina in many ways, politically, judicially and economically. The actual government took office last December and by the time we have had a large number of economic problems specially with our IMF debt but due to the extended lockdown were no essential businesses have not been able to open their doors, the vast part of the Argentine population is in extraordinary difficulties and it is estimated that by the end of the lockdown 50% of the inhabitants will be in poverty. So in brief, the long lockdown was not useless from the sanitary side even though the economic ones are very serious.
3) how has Covid-19 impacted and continues to impact the shipping industry in Argentina, i.e. for Argentinian shipowners and for Argentinian ports and terminals?
Although the continuity of the international shipping industry has been considered of utmost importance for the country, a number of difficulties have taken place. To enumerate a few, we would mention:
a) that some ports/jurisdictions request a 14 day quarantine for those vessels arriving from Brazil or Uruguay;
b) others allow the vessels to proceed, but with previous tests of the crewmembers by sanitary authorities through Coast Guard on arrival at Recalada pilot station (outer River Plate)
c) when the vessels are in port/terminals, the crew are not allowed to disembark, even, for drafts readings;
d) in principle it is not possible for crewmembers to be repatriated from Argentina at present time due to closure of international borders;
e) when a crew member has to be disembarked in Argentina due to health problems and cannot return to the vessel and he has to remain in the country there are difficulties to arrange accommodation at present time depending on the place he is at. There are very few hotels which can be used and in general the crew member has to remain inside the designated hotel. Most of the hotels around the country are closed for the time being save those which are used for patients with light Covid-19 symptoms.
4) As a renown and leading P&I correspondent, do you see a pattern or trend in claims which are triggered by the Covid-19 situation?
In general, we have not seen any special trend in relation to claims triggered by the Covid-19 situation but the most relevant situation this year has been the exceptional number of groundings in the Parana River specially during the month of May due to extraordinary low water levels in the Parana River but, as said, with no relation to Cover-19 situation.
Managing Partner of Pandi Liquidadores