BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Truckers in Argentina began an open-ended strike on Monday to demand higher rates for transporting grain and livestock, an action that could hit grain exports during a key part of the harvest.
Argentina, the world’s leading exporter of soy derivatives and second-largest corn exporter, recently started harvesting both grains, which will be key for tight global markets amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The start of the trucker strike did not immediately impact grains exports, as traders usually have enough inventory at Argentine ports to cover several days of shipments.
“Very few trucks have arrived, but it’s not affecting (shipping) activity” said Guillermo Wade, manager of the Chamber of Port and Maritime Activities (CAPyM).
Argentina’s Transportation Ministry met with various sector representatives last week, but no new meetings are on the agenda, a ministry source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“There are no negotiations currently underway,” said Edgardo Aniceto, a spokesperson for transportation union FETRA, adding that the strike has no definite timeline.
About 85% of Argentina’s grain volume is transported by truck from fields to the country’s ports, and truck traffic is particularly heavy during the second quarter of the year.
The Buenos Aires grains exchange estimates a yield of 42 million tonnes of soybean and 49 million tonnes of corn for the current harvest.
Although the government, truckers and farm groups agreed on new rates in early February for transporting grains, FETRA said in a statement that increases in the price of diesel have made it “impossible to continue working under reasonable conditions.”
Higher global energy prices due to Russia’s invasion have exacerbated severe inflation in Argentina.
FETRA has also complained about fuel shortages, and national oil company YPF responded by boosting gasoil supplies to their highest levels in a decade this month.
Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Writing by Alexander Villegas and Steven Grattan; Edited by Nicholas Misculin, Brad Haynes, Will Dunham and Bernadette Baum
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