June 27 - Industrial action by Brazilian customs officers is disrupting the clearance of imported goods into the country.

Various sources state that unless this week's negotiations with the government around better salaries and working conditions are successful, interruption to vessel movements is likely to intensify.

Industrial action of varying lengths and degrees has already affected normal port operations in the majority of Brazil's major ports including SantosParanaguaSalvadorManausSantaremSantana and Itacoatiara. Customs officers had originally advised shipping agents that they would stop work for two days a week, and only work at a minimal level on the remaining days, until an agreement is reached.

Customs' leaders have now warned that if the negotiations taking place over the next few days are unsuccessful, they will start an undefined strike which will affect the whole country and paralyse Brazil including ports, airports and bonded warehouses. Importers, including industry which relies on raw materials and parts, are expecting to be particularly badly hit.

Local sources says that Customs officers are being extremely vigorous in their inspection, demanding to see each piece of cargo individually and slowing down the approvals process.

We understand that project cargo, unless it is part of a government project, could be particularly affected. Local sources have indicated that whilst the industrial action is affecting Customs activities, ship operations in the ports remains unaffected for the time being.