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Transporters firms end strike that paralysed Argentine farming exports

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) – Argentine grain transporters have called off a strike over a dispute with producers that had paralysed farming exports, the national haulage federation said on Friday.

Thousands of trucks that carry grain and its derivatives had been parked up on the side of the road for four days with shipment companies unhappy at the amount they were being paid to transport grain since their fuel costs have shot up in recent months due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But the strike was lifted following an intervention by the Transport Ministry that resulted in an “immediate increase of 20 per cent” in freight rates and a promise to re-negotiate those again in the first half of May, said the Argentine Haulage Federation FETRA.

The agreement comes at a critical time for the Argentine farming industry right in the middle of the harvest season.

The South American country is the world’s largest exporter of soybean flour and oil, and one of the main suppliers of wheat, soybean and corn.

The strike caused “losses of about USD100 million a day”, according to Gustavo Idigoras, president of the Ciara-CEG oil and grain exporters chamber.

“About 200 tonnes (of produce) have been left unloaded at port terminals,” Idigoras said in a statement on Thursday.

He said 50 boats were waiting to load their cargos but whereas normally 3,000 to 4,000 trucks a day would arrive at Argentina’s ports, those had fallen to around just a dozen.

Both truckers and producers had also complained of a lack of diesel that had pushed up prices at gas stations and left tractors unable to harvest grain.

The Transport Ministry committed “to resolve the problem of diesel scarcity”, said FETRA.

Argentina’s grain industry was worth USD35 billion in 2021.

Truckers are seen near their vehicles as they block a highway during a strike in Victoria, Entre Rios province in Argentina. PHOTO: AFP