Argentina gradually resumes beef exports

Argentina is the world’s fourth largest beef exporter, with sector revenues vital to the country’s economy.

BUENOS AIRES: The Argentine government on Tuesday announced the gradual resumption of beef exports suspended a month ago in an attempt to moderate the surge in prices in the country.

Exports have been allowed up to a maximum of 50% of the average monthly volumes for 2020, government ministers told reporters in Buenos Aires.

The country is the world’s fourth-largest beef exporter as well as one of its largest per capita consumers, and the sector’s income is vital to the country’s economy.

It exported some 819,000 tonnes of beef and cowhide valued at $ 3.37 billion in 2020 – a decrease of 16.5% from 2019 – mainly to China, Germany and Israel , according to the statistics institute INDEC.

“The 50% quota will remain in place until August 31 and depending on the results we will consider how to adapt it,” said Minister of Productive Development Matias Kulfas.

The quota excludes exports under an agreement with the European Union on hormone-free beef.

The government also bans the export of seven cuts of beef popular with domestic consumers, including the family staple “asado”, until December 31.

“The top priority is that there is no shortage of meat on the Argentine table. We believe this will help stabilize prices,” Kulfas said of the measures.

In mid-May, the government of President Alberto Fernandez announced a month-long suspension of meat sales abroad to “bring order to the sector, restrict speculative practices and prevent tax evasion in foreign trade “.

Poverty affects 42% of Argentines, and Fernandez has sought to reduce the cost of living by putting in place price controls.

Fernandez insisted Argentina could not accept the recent rise in meat prices in a country already reeling from three years of recession and the negative economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Price increases contributed to Argentina’s inflation, already among the highest in the world, reaching 17.6% in the first quarter of 2021, according to INDEC.

Cattle producers have announced a two-week shutdown of domestic beef sales in response to the government’s decision.

The protest did not affect domestic availability, butcheries and markets stocked up, and consumption plummeted due to a sharp rise in prices – about 76.2% year-on-year in May.

According to the Argentine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the industry employs some 100,000 people.

Meat consumption in Argentina has declined year on year, from 69.3 kilograms per person in 2009 to 49.2 kilograms today, according to industrial chamber CICCRA.

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