Argentine officials deny they suspended beef exports

Other News Materials 2 April 2008 02:36 (UTC +04:00)

Argentine customs officials Tuesday denied reports that they had suspended beef exports. ( dpa )

Online media reported they had undertaken an administrative measure to coincide with a farmers' protest that had seriously affected the country for 20 days.

Customs authorities denied the suspension and said controls on beef shipments abroad have simply been intensified. No reason was offered for increased restrictions, but the standoff between the government and angry farmers appeared to be at the heart of it.

Farmers have blockaded roads for several weeks to protest the government's increased export taxes on their crops, which have soared in value as foreign demand grows for their commodities.

The government justified the increased taxes as a way of keeping adequate food supplies in the country.

The Argentine government had previously blocked wheat exports, although it has since agreed to re-open them to favour small agricultural producers.

Argentina already blocked off beef exports in 2006, during the government of Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007), the husband of current Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. That led Argentine meat producers to relinquish certain markets.

Following a 20-day farmers' protest, with a broad road blockade, there was great scarcity of beef as well as vegetables, fruit and other fresh products across the country.

On Monday, the government committed itself to alleviating fiscal pressure on small agricultural producers, but rural organizations refused to lift the blockade - a protest over increased taxes on the export of soy and sunflowers - before Wednesday.