BUENOS AIRES, March 19 (Reuters) - A key port town in northern Rosario, Argentina’s main grains export hub, said on Thursday it would suspend port activities as part of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, drawing criticism from grain exporting firms and processors in the farm-rich country.
An order posted on the Timbues government website said “all commercial, industrial and port activities” would be suspended in the town from Thursday.
Amaro Gonzalez, the town’s head official, said that ports and mills would be closed until April 2 to protect the health of residents, Rosario newspaper La Capital reported.
Timbues is one of three main port towns in the Rosario area, along with Puerto General San Martin and San Lorenzo. Together they handle nearly 80% of Argentina’s primary and agricultural exports, the major one being soybeans, oil and meal.
Global commodities giants including Cofco and Louis Dreyfus, as well as local companies Oils General Deheza (AGD) and ACA, have their own terminals in Timbues.
It was unclear how quickly the order will come into effect, with the Argentine chamber of port and maritime activities (CAPyM) saying on Thursday that activity still appeared to be normal in Timbues.
Reuters was unable to reach Timbues authorities for comment.
Timbues-based exporters criticized the move in a statement released via the CIARA-CEC chamber of grain processors, saying that it did not conform to constitutional norms and would have “dire consequences for Argentina.” (Reporting by Maximilian Heath and Adam Jourdan, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)