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  • Ubaldo Guzmán Molina

The Maritime Trade Law project is urgent!

It is urgent to approve the draft Law on Maritime Trade and to work on another project to modernize Law 70-70 created by the Dominican Port Authority, initiatives that will serve to support the national strategy that seeks to convert the Dominican Republic into "Hub" of cargo movements in the Caribbean region.

This was expressed by Lludelis Espinal Benzant, president and co-founder of E & M International Consulting, a firm specialized in offering legal, maritime, port, logistics, insurance, and other services during an interview for TODAY.

Espinal Benzant stressed that 80% of the cargo of products moves through maritime transport, so ports, ships and all maritime infrastructures are essential for the development of countries.

Stresses that one of the axes of the National Development Strategy is to turn the country into a "hub" of the movement of cargo to the Caribbean region, so that the nation already has modern ports, a decree was issued for the creation of the logistics centers, however, regretted that the draft Law on Maritime Trade that was introduced to the National Congress has not yet been approved, in addition to the lack of legislation regulating the ports.

He said that the Law on Maritime Trade has been designed for four years, which is an essential regulatory framework, because it establishes a series of vital regulations for the development of the sector, among them that of the ships, the responsibility of the transport lines, the responsibility for transport contracts for goods, among other aspects.

He added that as the country imports many goods, but does not have a merchant fleet, that law would allow the contract for chartering, that is, renting of the vessels, which would reduce the costs of transporting the products to the entrepreneurs.

It would also impact on the tourism sector, because it would regulate the passenger contract, an important aspect to continue encouraging the arrival of foreign visitors to the country who come on cruise ships, because it offers the right to complain about any incident or violation of their rights.

It also regulates the part of maritime rescue and port towing.

He also indicated that the project establishes regulations for the registry of ships, which he assured would generate sources of employment.

He said that this bill has been revised several times and agreed by the private sector, so he trusts that this year it will be approved, because it does not present any objection.

On the other hand, he argued that Law 70-70 is totally obsolete in relation to the reality of the current moment.

In this regard, he stressed the need to redefine the role of the Port Authority, since today that institution is operator, governing, regulating and auditing, which is not correct.

He said that since the 1990s all Latin American countries have been revising their port laws, while in the Dominican Republic it has not been done, even though it is a law that was enacted in 1970. "We have modern ports without legislation that will give support, "he said.

He recalled that the director of the Dominican Port Authority, Víctor Gómez Casanova, began work to launch a National Maritime and Port Strategy aimed at promoting and developing ports and the national maritime sector, however he said that it would not be possible without a regulatory framework that guarantees the legal security that investors need.

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