EXCLUSIVE-Argentina could lift corn export cap to 35 mln T -AgMin source

(Adds final paragraph on wheat)

BUENOS AIRES, May 19 (Reuters) - Argentina, the world’s No. 2 corn exporter, could raise its limit for exports of the 2021/22 harvest of the grain to 35 million tonnes, from 30 million tonnes currently, a source at the ministry of agriculture told Reuters on Thursday.

The South American country, deep into its corn harvest, limited exports for the current cycle to 25 million tonnes in December from a 41.6 million tonne cap the season before, hoping to counter inflation. It lifted it to the current level earlier in May.

“We are waiting for the late corn to be threshed, which is the one that is sown last, with the expectation that there will be 35 million” tonnes of the grains authorized for export, the source with direct knowledge of the plans said.

Argentina, also the No. 1 exporter of processed soy, and a big global player in wheat and beef, is battling domestic food inflation as global commodities prices have surged due to the war in Ukraine.

The country’s 2021/22 corn harvest, including grains not expected to be commercialized, is estimated at 57 million tonnes, government data show. The harvest is 44% complete. The Buenos Aires grains exchange forecasts corn production for commercial use at 49 million tonnes.

Exporters have made sworn declarations of 2021/22 corn sales for 27 million tonnes so far, Ministry of Agriculture data show.

According to state statistics agency INDEC, last year Argentina exported around 40 million tonnes of corn, of which 1.5 million tonnes went to Vietnam, 1.2 million tonnes to South Korea and 697,000 tonnes to Egypt.

The ministry source said that with 2022/23 wheat, the planting of which has just started, some 8.5 million tonnes had been registered for export of the 10 million tonne cap, a limit that could be “fine tuned” when the season was more advanced. (Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Editing by Adam Jourdan, David Gregorio and Marguerita Choy)