Brazil unable to unload wheat imports due to tax collectors' protest

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SAO PAULO, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Brazil has been unable to promptly unload wheat shipments at its key port in Santos as agricultural tax collectors protestas part of a campaign for higher wages, local association Abitrigo said on Thursday.

Abitrigo's head Rubens Barbosa told Reuters that two vessels carrying imported wheat had their unloading operations delayed due to the work-to-rule effort.

One of the vessels was unloaded but the shipment was not yet cleared by officials, he said, while the other one needs to wait for these procedures to be concluded so it can discharge.

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Brazil is one of the world's largest wheat importers, buying its cereal mainly from Argentina. Brazil, however, has just finished harvesting a record wheat crop and is also exporting large amounts of the commodity.

Neither the full impact of the delays nor which companies were affected was immediately clear. Abitrigo said Brazil's Agriculture Ministry is working to resolve the issue.

The ministry told Reuters it was discussing the matter and its potential impact.

"If needed, measures to secure the normalcy of affected services will be adopted," it said in a statement, without providing details.

The Santos port authority and tax collectors' union Anffa Sindical did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Local association ABPA, which represents poultry and pork exporters, did not report a specific issue, but told Reuters it believes the work-to-rule situation will be "rapidly solved", saying tax auditors will understand the need for regular trade flow to continue.

Anec, an association representing grain exporters, and coffee industry group Cecafe said soybean, corn and coffee exports were not affected so far.

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Reporting by Roberto Samora; Writing by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Paul Simao

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