For the fourth day running independent teamsters are blocking roads in Argentina as part of a protest over what they describe fuel prices, exorbitant taxes, and highway tolls. The lockdown threatens the export of grains and oilseeds, CIARA-CEC the industry chamber said.
The teamsters grouped in the informal TUDA association (Transportistas Unidos de Argentina), began blocking highways over the weekend, making it hard for grains to reach port terminals. The protest adds uncertainty to a sector that was racked by several Argentine port workers' strikes last month.
Currently everything is operating, but the terminals only have a certain amount of storage capacity... If the protest extends over time, it will generate problems. There is concern, CIARA-CEC spokesman said.
Rising global grain and oilseed costs have stoked worries about food price inflation and already triggered curbs on grain exports from major suppliers such as Argentina and Russia.
The entry of grains cargo trucks at port facilities in Argentina's main export hub of Rosario on the Parana River fell dramatically, according to data from the Rosario grains exchange.
Teamsters are demanding a review of their costs, including tolls, insurance rates, taxes and fuel prices, TUDA truckers told the local media.
Argentina is the world's No. 3 corn exporter and top supplier of soy meal livestock feed and soy oil. Besides the country is desperately short of hard currency and export dollars are essential to help the recovery of the economy.
Argentina Cereals Chamber and Commodities Stock Exchange expressed their concern with the pickets in the highways which are blocking the free circulation of goods and inputs, and threatening the production chain and trading of cereals and derivates.
These measures generate economic losses which affect all the links of the agro-industrial production chain and put at risk the supply of the domestic market and processing, as well as impeding the access of trucks with grains to export ports
The Rosario Chamber of Commerce reported that only 321 trucks had managed to reach the port on Wednesday, which is 88% less than the average before the outbreak of the conflict.
The request from the Cereals chamber were supported by the Argentine Industrial Union, the country's main of industries lobby, and the Steel Chamber, also concerned with the blocking of inputs for the foundries.