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ECONOMY | 14-10-2021 12:41

Argentina says maize exports are 'open,' despite imposition of new rules

Farmers oppose imposition of new registration requirements for maize exports; Record 60.5 million tones forecast for 2020-2021 harvest.

Argentina's government has established new registration requirements for maize exports, with a record 60.5 million tons forecast for the 2020-2021 harvest, an Agriculture Ministry communiqué informed on Tuesday.

The government wants to prioritise crops that are already harvested over future sales. According to the new dispositions, operations will only be authorised when the shipment has the actual presence of grain and a date of arrival confirmed, giving priority to companies with contracted sales.

Farmers reject the new administrative requirements, which they estimate will slow down future sales yet to be contracted.

"The continuation of bureaucratic intervention in the markets is a dreadful signal, hurting the confidence of farmers," pointed out Sociedad Rural Argentina President Nicolás Pino on Tuesday.

"We’ve already seen this since April with beef and now maize. Our country needs us all to be able to work freely to produce, knowing that we’ll be able to sell," he said in a post on Twitter.

In a statement, the Agriculture, Livestock & Fishing Ministry took issue with claims the rules were restrictive, saying that there was "no limitation nor ban" on maize exports and defending the new measures imposed on operations.

“Argentina is heading to export a historical volume of corn, higher than any previous one,” it read.

"Maize exports are open and Argentina will export a record 38.5 million tons. There is no limitation nor ban. Farmers must have complete certainty that they are the base of value chain and at no time will be there be any measure to hurt them," said the portfolio headed by Julián Domínguez.

Until the next harvest next February, every sworn declaration presented for authorisation must establish that the merchandise has already been acquired and that it will be shipped in the next 30 days aboard an identified vessel.

Tuesday’s communiqué insisted: "Exports are open. The decision does not imply anything for futures markets since it only applies to the present 2020-2021 maize harvest. The registrations for the 2021-2022 harvest will continue conventionally with sworn statements for 6.12 million tons already registered. In total nine companies export 96 percent with individual volumes ranging from 1.5 to 5.9 million tons."

Argentina is the world’s third-biggest exporter of maize and its main supplier of soy flour and oil. 

Last year maize exports reached 37.03 million tons earning US$6.023 billion while Argentina produced 50 million tons of maize.

The government has intervened to ensure domestic supply of commodities amid runaway inflation. Prices rose 32.3 percent in the first eight months of the year alone, driven by a major increase in domestic food prices which the government is attempting to tamp down.

Last week publication of a resolution reopening beef exports to China was awaited, a measure demanded by trade unions in both farming and industrial sectors. 

Beef exports were suspended last May in order to mitigate the increases of domestic market prices running at an annual 65 percent in the midst of a pandemic.

The restrictions on beef exports will be maintained for seven cuts considered essential for the local diet. Argentina is the world’s fourth leading beef exporter. 

– TIMES/NA/PERFIL

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