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ECONOMY | 17-03-2020 09:13

Virus ripples reach Argentine crop ports with ships in limbo

Vessels are being held up on the river because a procedure to clear the health of crews, prior to entering ports, is suspended.

Ships arriving to load at ports clustered around the city of Rosario, Argentina’s crop-export hub on the Paraná River, aren’t docking because of coronavirus.

Vessels are being held up on the river because a procedure to clear the health of crews, prior to entering ports, is suspended, Guillermo Wade, manager of port and maritime chamber CAPyM, said by telephone from Rosario.

The procedure, called free pratique, clears ships to enter a port after assurances they are free of contagious diseases. “They’ve stopped all free pratique,” Wade said. “No new ships are coming in.”

The hold-ups are the latest example of the disease’s global ripples as authorities around the world look to tighten containment measures without upending economic activity.

It could be a body blow to Argentina, which needs crop shipments to spur a struggling economy. The nation is the biggest exporter of soybean meal and oil. The soy harvest starts to roll in at the end of the month.

Government officials are working on a decree that would enable the pratique procedure, Wade said.

There have been relatively few confirmed cases of coronavirus in Argentina and just two deaths. President Alberto Fernández is trying to keep it that way.

On Sunday night he announced a two-week ban on all foreigners entering the country and a suspension of school classes. He’s also mulling a broader lockdown.

 

 

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by Jonathan Gilbert, Bloomberg

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