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Argentina imposes 'voluntary' price agreement on 200 supermarket staples

Saturday, December 21st 2013 - 05:41 UTC
Full article 47 comments
Kicillof: “it's basically a voluntary price agreement between the national government and the sector's main actors” Kicillof: “it's basically a voluntary price agreement between the national government and the sector's main actors”

Argentina has negotiated a new inflation-fighting attempt: regulating prices of nearly 200 supermarket staples, scheduled to go into effect January 1, the Commerce Department said Friday. The deal was reached with different chambers and pretends to keep prices unchanged for twelve months.

 The move echoes a 60-day price freeze on mass market supermarket items last February that failed to slow the country's heavy inflation.

“We agreed on a basket of major consumer products,” Argentine Commerce Secretary Augustin Costa told reporters at a press conference, reporting on the accord between the Economy Ministry and the big supermarket chains and their suppliers.

So far, some 175 products, including meat, fruits, vegetables, beverages, cleaning and sanitary products are on the list, which should ultimately grow to 200 items.

Costa said the list represents two-thirds of what a modest household consumes. He said the government would ensure prices are marked in accordance with the agreement.

Chinese supermarkets -- which are common, especially in urban areas -- have not signed the agreement, though the government said it hopes to include them soon.

Unlike this year's two previous price freezes, this new measure affects suppliers as well as supermarkets. The year-long freeze will take effect on Jan. 1, and prices may be revised during the course of 2014.

“It's basically a voluntary price agreement between the national government and the sector's main actors,” Economy Minister Axel Kicillof said. “It's a voluntary agreement on prices because we know that controls imposed on the private sector and price freezes imposed on the private sectors aren't successful.”

Most of the goods affected by previous price-freezes were not sold in supermarkets.

The main supermarkets operating in Argentina, Latin America's No. 3 economy, include units of Chile's Cencosud , France's Carrefour and the United States' Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Argentina has seen soaring inflation over the last several years, though the IMF accuses the country of underplaying it. Official estimates of inflation are around 10%, while private institutes put the figure at around 27%. Argentine inflation is Latin America's second-highest after Venezuela's.

Categories: Economy, Politics, Argentina.

Top Comments

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  • nigelpwsmith

    Moves which are guaranteed to help the black market thrive.

    You cannot fix prices in the face of heavy inflation, because all that will happen is that the shelves will empty.

    Does the Argentine government not recall what happened in Soviet Russia when they fixed prices? Rows of empty shelves in the super-markets. Except for the goods that no-one could afford to buy.

    This will help the smugglers to make even greater profits as they circumvent the price controlled goods, when they cannot be purchased through shops, because the shops cannot afford to buy them.

    Dec 21st, 2013 - 11:05 am 0
  • Xect

    All fixing prices does is force supermarkets out of business and the ones that manage to stay open do so with empty shelves.

    You can't take inflation out of the supply chain and as the supermarkets exist at the end of the supply chain you are essentially just killing supermarket for no good reason and making products unavailable to the consumer. It's a very stupid policy.

    Everyone's costs are increasingly rapidly thanks to inflation and the poor old business are making less money each day until they reach a negative position.

    Dec 21st, 2013 - 12:20 pm 0
  • Mendoza Canadian

    Things disappear from the shelves everyday. Just plain gone. And the government is so brain dead that they don't realize that the supers just raise prices on other things to make up for the loss on the “frozen” products. Maybe its time to “freeze” wages instead of giving 25% increase every other day. Hell, maybe its time to freeze the government....

    Dec 21st, 2013 - 12:24 pm 0
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