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Argentina says agreement with meat packers to begin reopening beef exports

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Photograph Photograph: Cows seen on a farm in Saladillo, a suburb of Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 20, 2021. REUTERS / Agustin Marcarian

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina is close to reaching an agreement with meat packers aimed at partially resuming exports next week after a month-long suspension aimed at slowing domestic food price inflation, the minister said on Thursday. Matias Kulfas Production.

Argentina, China’s second-largest beef supplier after Brazil, halted exports for a month in mid-May as it struggled with rapidly rising domestic food prices. Meat packers have negotiated a way to remove borders amid fears they could be extended.

“We have had several dialogue meetings with the meat industry leaders and we are just finalizing the adjustment of the mechanisms that will be put in place,” Kulfas told local radio.

An announcement of the deal was expected later Thursday or Friday, said another government source who asked not to be named because of the political sensitivity of the issue. Access to steak in Argentina, known for its barbecues, is a touching issue ahead of the legislative elections set for November.

I insist on making sure the Argentine table is well stocked, Kulfas said in the radio interview. Overall inflation in Argentina is currently expected at around 50% this year.

The idea is to allow meat to be exported again, but we will do it with a system that allows us to guarantee a greater presence of meat in the domestic market, Kulfas added.

In the 12 months to April, meat prices in Argentina rose by 60% -70%, according to official data. In the first four months of 2021, 28.8% of the 965,286 tonnes of beef produced in Argentina were exported, of which 76.6% went to China.

Reporting by Maximilian Heath, Writing by Hugh Bronstein, Editing by Catherine Evans

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