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ECONOMY | 17-05-2021 22:44

Argentina's government to suspend beef exports for at least 30 days

Argentina's government is to suspend beef exports for at least 30 days, multiple outlets reported late Monday night.

In an attempt to curb rising prices, Argentina's government is to suspend beef exports for at least 30 days, multiple outlets reported late Monday night.

Sources from the Productive Development Ministry and meat-processing industry confirmed the news to at least two local outlets and a news agency, saying that the measure would remain in place "until the domestic market is ordered." 

Not all cuts may be included in the resolution, according to reports, which has not yet been published.

The news was reportedly leaked to members of the Consortium of Argentine Meat Exporters (ABC), a local chamber that is working with the government to curb prices rises on cuts of beef, ahead of a formal announcement. According to reports, ABC chief Mario Ravettino was informed directly of the news while at the Casa Rosada.

In a television interview with the C5N news channel on Sunday night, President Alberto Fernández warned that he would take measures to calm price hikes.

Inflation last month was 4.1 percent and prices have risen 46.3 percent over the past 12 months. According to the INDEC national statistics bureau, beef prices rose 64.7 percent over the same period.

"I have watched with great concern what happened in March and April, and I am not willing to sit idly by," the head of state warned. "I am very determined to take care of the price issue and put things in order."

For the Government, the sale of beef to the domestic market at export prices is one of the causes of recent price rises.

"The increase could be explained by international prices, but it is also true that transferring that value to domestic prices does not have much justification," said the president.

"There is honestly no reason, other than the increase in consumption, to explain those increases that occurred in March and April," Fernández said. "I am glad that Argentina exports beef but not that they make Argentines pay the price they make them pay for beef."

The move will spark anger among producers. The Mesa de Enlace roundtable that brings together the biggest groups representing farmers and cattle-ranchers slammed the move, saying it would have "no effect on prices and could affect beef stocks in the medium term."

The highlighted a similar move taken in 2006 under late former president Néstor Kirchner, saying it had coset the country millions of heads of cattle, as well as jobs. 

Nicolás Pino, an agricultural producer and aspiring candidate to lead the Argentine Rural Society, said that "the news of the closure of exports brings us the worst memories of recent years. The loss of jobs and livestock stock, plus the closure of refrigerators. In 15 years they have learned nothing," he said.

"Without exports there is no production. Once again our neighbours celebrate that we leave the door open for them to take advantage of the markets," he wrote in a post on Twitter.

Argentine beef exports have been surging for four years and reached a record in the first two months of 2021, according to beef group Ciccra.

The government last month formalised a registry to ensure domestic supplies of beef at accessible prices as well as monitor shipments and supplies at home.

– TIMES/NA/BLOOMBERG

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