Up to 2,000 trucks are backed up at Argentina's main border crossing with Chile due to tougher Covid-19 testing requirements, Argentine haulers said on Tuesday, adding that the supply chain could suffer.
Some 900 trucks a day usually pass through the Christ Redeemer crossing from the Argentine province of Mendoza into Chile.
But those have been backed up for two days due to tougher health controls imposed on Argentine haulers by Chile, the Federación Argentina de Entidades Empresarias del Autotransporte de Cargas de Argentina (Argentine Federation of Freight Business Entities) said in a statement.
"At any moment the supply chain is going to break. It's not a funnel, it's a plug. Effectively, the border is closed," Daniel Gallart, from the Mendoza truck owners association, told AFP. "We're talking about 1,800 or 2,000 trucks. They come from all over Mercosur. According to traffic statistics, 50 percent are Argentine, 30 percent Brazilian and the rest from other countries."
Truck owners are demanding the Argentine Foreign Office intervenes and also want more testing posts to speed up the process
The delays are costing millions of dollars for the international trade that passes through Chile towards ports on its Pacific coast. The trucking industry has already been hard hit by the pandemic. In 2018, before the pandemic, more than 580,000 trucks crossed the Argentine-Chilean border there, a recent binational study estimated.
Both countries have high levels of vaccinated people but Argentina is in the middle of new wave of infections from the highly contagious Omicron variant, with around 120,000 new cases and 200 deaths a day. Chile has already started to give a fourth dose to citizens, while Argentina has 86.1 percent of the population with one dose, and 75.2 per cent with two doses. Just over 21 percent have already received the booster.
Chilean sources say that the delays could be aggravated by the transit of Argentine tourists to Chile, who are also obliged to comply with health requirements.