Brasilia - Brazil's government launched a $26bn port investment program on Thursday to reduce the high costs and notorious delays in shipping goods in and out of the major commodities exporter.
The plan to modernize port infrastructure announced by President Dilma Rousseff seeks to increase investment in Brazil's ports through partnership with private companies.
The bidding process that will open next year will favor tenders that offer the lowest tariffs for handling the greatest volume of cargo, moving away from a prior model of granting concessions to the highest bidder.
"Our objective is the greatest movement of cargo possible at the lowest possible cost," Rousseff said.
"We want to increase the efficiency of Brazilian ports with this partnership, which will make our exports more competitive and increase production," she said. "We want an explosion of investment through this partnership with the private sector."
The bulk of the investment would be made between 2014 and 2017, Ports Minister Leonidas Cristino said.
The ports slated for modernization include Santos, which is Latin America's largest port by value of goods moved, Rio de Janeiro, Paranagua, Porto Alegre, Espiritu Santo, Itaqui, Pecem and Suape.
Rousseff said Brazil's ports handle 95% of Brazil's foreign trade. The country is the world's top exporter of coffee sugar and citrus and a major grains exporter. It is also one of the world's biggest exporters of iron ore used to make steel.