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Venezuela will seek amicable accord with nationalized Cargill

Friday, March 6th 2009 - 09:05 UTC
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Agriculture minister Elias Jaua Agriculture minister Elias Jaua

Venezuela does not plan to take over additional assets of US food giant Cargill after announcing the seizure of its rice unit said the Agriculture minister Elias Jaua on Thursday.

Venezuela will seek an amicable agreement in the nationalization of Cargill's plant, said Jaua adding the government has already taken control of the assets.

Earlier in the week President Hugo Chavez ordered the expropriation of the Cargill rice mill, amid a battle with food companies over price regulation.

Chavez alleged Cargill was not distributing rice at government-set prices. He also threatened to nationalise the country's largest food processor and private company, Polar. Venezuela has already set quotas and prices for 12 basic foods.

Under the measure, 80% of all rice produced must be basic white rice. The measure also includes 95% of all cooking oil, coffee and sugar.

Producers of items such as powdered milk, cheese and tomato sauce are also affected.

Last week Chavez ordered troops to rice processing plants after accusing producers of sidestepping the law on controlled prices by producing a higher grade of rice.

Cargill, which operates one rice-processing plant in Venezuela, said the mill does not produce the plain rice that is under regulation.

Chavez is attempting to reduce the cost of the basic shopping basket of ordinary Venezuelans at a time of soaring inflation, the highest in Latinamerica.

However business leaders and food producers are furious at what they see as a further attack on private property and their ability to turn a profit.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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