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Argentina Dissolves Agricultural Export Regulator

Argentina has dissolved the agricultural trade agency ONCCA responsible for the country’s corn and wheat export limits, and the government said it will still seek to guarantee domestic supply of grains.

It was unclear what the move would mean for Argentina’s heavily regulated export policies, which have angered farmers for years.

President Cristina Fernandez’s government says export quotas guarantee domestic food supply and control price hikes. Analysts forecast annual inflation at 25 per cent this year.

Farmers halted grains sales for a week in January to demand the government scrap export curbs, particularly on wheat, and have threatened to protest again once the corn harvest gets into full swing in March.

Soybean exports are taxed at 35 per cent. Exports of soy-oil, soymeal, corn, wheat and sunseeds are also taxed – generating about 10 per cent of Argentina’s total tax revenue. The country’s grains and oilseed exports bring in some $20 billion a year.

Reports Of Food Shortages In Libya

People in Libya are struggling with shortages of food, fuel and medical supplies and could face more difficulty if fresh stocks cannot be brought in, the World Food Program said citing reports from evacuees last Friday.

The WFP said people who had fled Libya had reported difficulties in moving around the country, where rebels have seized control of the east and are moving closer to the capital to try to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

“First-hand accounts from people arriving at the borders mention shortages in food, petrol and medical supplies, and restricted movement between various areas. Some report that access to the capital Tripoli is very difficult,” said Caroline Hurford, a spokeswoman with the UN agency.

“The situation is tense, evolving rapidly and reliable reports on the humanitarian situation are not available.”

Hurford said Libya could find its food supply, consisting largely of imports, cut off due to the unrest.

The oil-exporting north African country imports large quantities of grain. Prior to the crisis, a Libyan official said it expected to import 1.3 million tonnes of wheat in 2011.

Sources said grain cargoes bound for Libya were being diverted because of port closures.

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