March 20, 2012 / 4:07 PM / 5 years ago

Argentine grains truckers strike drags without deal

* Work stoppage called just as soy, corn harvesting starts
    * Most of Argentina's grains are taken by truck to port
    * Truckers not expected to meet gov't officials Tuesday

    BUENOS AIRES, March 20 (Reuters) - A strike by Argentine
truckers disrupted the flow of corn and soybeans to the
country's main ports for a second day on Tuesday after union
leaders failed to reach a deal with the government.	
    The protest to demand higher pay began early on Monday, just
as exporters needed to haul freshly harvested soybeans to port.	
    The FETRA group of trucking companies met with Planning
Ministry officials late on Monday, but said the government had
failed to guarantee implementation of a minimum hauling tariff
agreed after a strike in October.	
    "We need a clear political decision because grains transport
is in (a state of) emergency," Pablo Agolanti, FETRA's vice
president said, adding that he did not expect further talks with
state officials to take place on Tuesday.	
    Argentina is the world's top supplier of soyoil and a major
soybean and corn exporter. The strike comes at a tough time for
farmers recovering from a drought earlier in the year that
reduced crop yields.	
    Most of the country's crops are trucked from the Pampas farm
belt to the export terminals and processing plants that dot
Argentina's rivers. 	
    But the country's main shipping hubs lacked the usual sound
of industrial-sized rigs rumbling in with tonnes of grains
destined worldwide. On Tuesday morning, 26 trucks came in to the
Rosario grains area, 99 percent fewer than the previous day,
according to Rosario grains exchange.	
    A prolonged strike could have global market implications 
and hurt Argentina's finances because export taxes on soy and
related products account for about 5 percent of state revenue.
Spot soy prices in Rosario fell on Monday as the strike hit
demand from local buyers.	
    Strikes are closely watched by grains traders and 
bondholders. Cargill, Bunge, Molinos Rio de la
Plata, Noble and Louis Dreyfus are among the
grains exporters that operate in Argentina.  	
    Labor disruptions are common in Argentina because inflation,
estimated by private economists at roughly 25 percent annually,
has made wage and tariff negotiations increasingly tough in
recent years.

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