Argentine trucker protest slashes grains delivery, threatening exports and milling

Argentine truck drivers block roads to protest against the shortages and rising prices for diesel fuel, in San Nicolas
Trucks blocking a highway are pictured near a burning barricade as Argentine truck drivers protest against shortages and rising prices for diesel fuel, just as the country's crucial grains harvest requires transport amid surging inflation, in San Nicolas, near Rosario, Argentina June 23, 2022. REUTERS/Miguel Lo Bianco

BUENOS AIRES, June 29 (Reuters) - A truck driver protest in Argentina is threatening to paralyze the country's grains exports, slashing the number of freight vehicles carrying grains to the country's main port on Wednesday.

The provincial Road Safety Agency said truck owner guilds protesting high diesel prices and shortages prevented the passage of loaded trucks on different roads in the province of Santa Fe, home to port city Rosario, the gateway for around 80% of Argentine agricultural exports.

On Wednesday, 889 grain trucks arrived at Rosario terminals on the Parana River, 76% fewer than from a year ago, the Rosario Grains Exchange said. More than 80% of grains bound for export are transported by trucks in Argentina.

"As of today, we are missing more than 400,000 tonnes (of merchandise), so we are close to running out of grains," Gustavo Idigoras, the head of the grain exporters and crushers chamber in Buenos Aires, told Reuters.

Argentina is the world's top exporter of processed soybean oil and meal, the no. 2 exporter of corn, as well as a major global supplier of wheat and beef.

Guillermo Wade, manager of the Chamber of Port and Maritime Activities in Rosario, said the protest isn't allowing replenishments of grains for crushing and shipping.

Over the weekend, the country's transport minister, Alexis Guerrera, said that the diesel shortage would be sorted out within 15 to 20 days thanks to the arrival of ships carrying fuel imports.

Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Brendan O'Boyle and Sandra Maler

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