Argentine grain truckers and government hold virtual meeting to end strike

Trucks block a highway during a strike by truckers to demand higher freight rates, in Victoria, Entre Rios, Argentina April 14, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer

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BUENOS AIRES, April 14 (Reuters) – Argentine truckers and government officials agreed on Thursday to hold a virtual meeting to reach a deal to end a protest by truck owners demanding higher freight rates.

Grain truckers, who transport up to 85% of the country’s grain to ports, have been protesting since Monday in what could soon impact grain shipments from one of the world’s largest food exporters. Talks to end the strike on Wednesday failed to make a breakthrough.

Argentina is the world’s leading exporter of oil and processed soybean meal and the second for maize.

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“Efforts are continuing with the aim of finding consensus on the heavy truck strike,” the Department of Transport said in a statement, adding that “at 6 p.m. (2100 GMT) there will be a virtual meeting between the parties. so that they can negotiate and the grain transport strike can be lifted.”

The Federation of Argentine Transporters (FETRA), which represents truckers, is calling for an increase in grain transport tariffs to compensate for rising fuel prices in recent weeks.

The rates had been updated in early February, as part of an agreement between transporters, the government and agricultural producers, but Argentina is facing runaway inflation.

Retail prices in the south of the country rose 6.7% in March, accumulating a 55.1% increase over the past 12 months. Inflation was exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, which pushed up global commodity prices.

FETRA is also complaining of fuel shortages at a time when demand for soybean and corn shipments is increasing.

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Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Written by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Sandra Maler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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