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Truck drivers block roads during a protest, near Puerto General San Martin, Argentina, April 12 2022. Picture: SEBASTIAN LOPEZ BRANCH/BLOOMBERG
Truck drivers block roads during a protest, near Puerto General San Martin, Argentina, April 12 2022. Picture: SEBASTIAN LOPEZ BRANCH/BLOOMBERG

Buenos Aires — Argentina truck owners extended a grains transport strike on Tuesday, bringing grains haulage traffic to a virtual halt at the peak of the harvest season in one of the world’s top exporters of processed soy and maize.

The protest, over a demand for higher freight rates as inflation spirals as well as diesel shortages, started on Monday, leaving important roadways for carrying grains for producers to the ports without the normal jam of trucks which occurs every year from around April.

The indefinite strike has not yet hit exports because the ports have large stored reserves of grains, but a prolongation of the protest could start to affect shipments. About 85% of Argentina’s grain is transported around the country by truck.

“We will come out of the strike with a new rate schedule. Otherwise we won’t come out of the strike at all,” Pablo Agolanti, vice-president of the Federation of Argentine Carriers (FETRA), said. 

The country’s transport ministry in a statement called for a meeting on Wednesday to continue the  dialogue  with the truckers.

Regarding the impact of the protest, local agricultural logistics company AgroEntregas said that “there is no truck movement” towards the port terminals. Its data showed just 57 grains trucks entering ports, down from more than 6,000 on April 9.

A grains port sector source, who asked not to be named, said  ships were loading normally due to the reserves, but that “within a few days commitments could be affected” if things did not change.

FETRA is demanding an increase in grain rates that were agreed with the government and agricultural associations at the beginning of February, due to a spike in fuel prices. It also wants assured supply of fuel amid worries over diesel supply.

Argentina is suffering from inflation running annually above 50%, which has been sharpened further by the war in Ukraine causing global supply bottlenecks. Ukraine’s maize and wheat exports are expected to drop as Russias war continues.

The country’s farmers are harvesting soybeans and maize for the 2021/22 cycle, with production of the two grains estimated by the Buenos Aires grains exchange at 42-million tonnes and 49-million tonnes, respectively.

Reuters 

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