Argentina's bumper wheat and barley crops and high prices are on track to give the government some breathing room with the peso, which is widely expected to be devalued.
Farmers in the pampas agricultural zone recently began harvesting the grains and by the time they have finished the job in early January, exports are forecast to be worth US$4.9 billion, according to the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange. That's up 16 percent from last season and a record during the six years the bourse has been tracking shipments, said chief economist Agustín Tejeda.
While the value of wheat and barley exports are lower than that of soybeans and corn harvested in the second quarter, the timing of the dollar inflows is crucial, as it will help the Central Bank manage the peso during the southern hemisphere summer. Crop traders receive dollars from foreign buyers, which they must then exchange for pesos through the Central Bank.
Argentina is always eager for a supply of hard currency and already tightly controls the peso to prevent dollars from leaving the country. But the government is particularly needy at the moment, when it must make large debt payments to multilateral lenders, inflation is running at over 50 percent and estimated net foreign reserves are at just US$3.4 billion, according to Buenos Aires-based consultancy Anker Latin America.
The wheat crop, whose exports would account for 83 percent of the US$4.9 billion windfall, is headed for a record 19.8 million metric tons, but yields may fall after plants suffered heat waves, the grain exchange said in a report issued November 18.
by Jonathan Gilbert, Bloomberg