Saturday, March 31st 2001 - 21:00 UTC

Argentine wool buyer unable to activate business in Falklands.

Argentine businesman Matias Suarez Anzorena of the company Zambrano & Cia. Left the Falklands on Saturday disappointed but not dismayed at the Islanders rejection of his plans to buy their wool.

Mr Anzorena was one of six Argentines who made a two days visit to the Islands in a private aircraft from Rio Grande, hoping to activate some business within the Falklands farming community, despite repeated warnings from the Department of Agriculture in Port Stanley that few if any farmers would want to conduct business with Argentina.

Mr Anzorena visited one farm ?Estancia' some 15 miles from Stanley but the owners Tony & Ailsa Heathman politely declined his request to ?take a look around their wool-shed'. The Heathmans said that they ?did not yet feel ready to welcome Argentine nationals to their farm or conduct any business'. Further on it was much the same story at another farm ?The Malo' where the owner Darren Bagley said that all his wool clip had already been taken to Stanley for onward shipment to wool-brokers in England.

Mr Anzorena and his party did meet with the Director of Agriculture Bob Reid and another official Doug Cartridge to talk about Falklands farming in general, but Mr Cartridge made it clear that any discussions relating to the possibility of buying Falklands wool, would curtail the conversations.

Since the ban on Argentine nationals visiting the Islands was lifted in July 1999, the Falklands Government has insisted that private but not commercial visits by Argentinians are acceptable only. There was some confusion over the category of the Anzorena visit although the Piper Aerostar aircraft was given the go-ahead to land in Stanley Airport from Government House.

Matias Suarez Anzorena said that he was told that Falklands farmers receive around 80 U.S. cents per kilo for their wool from brokers in England, but one farmer said that this figure was totally inaccurate and two to three dollars a kilo was more appropriate.

All six Argentines have vowed to return to the Islands soon as they were surprised by the friendly attitude with which they were received, and because they were very impressed with the cleanliness and tidy nature of the town. They also made a visit to the British Military Base at Mt. Pleasant and took a plane journey over some of the farms in a local aircraft

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