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Adecoagro spies opportunity in U.S.-Mexico trade tensions
October 9, 2017 / 8:46 PM / 2 months ago

Adecoagro spies opportunity in U.S.-Mexico trade tensions

NEW YORK/CHICAGO (Reuters) - Adecoagro SA sees a long-term opportunity in the Trump administration’s call for a renegotiation of NAFTA, spying a chance for corn, rice and other crops it produces in Argentina and Brazil to find a market in Mexico, its CEO said.

Farming and agricultural processing firm Adecoagro (AGRO.N) has shipped cargoes of corn and rice to Mexico from South America in the past few months, Chief Executive Officer Mariano Bosch said to Reuters on Monday, in an interview during the Reuters Global Commodities Summit.

The company sees a chance to ship more products, including dairy, that Mexican buyers typically import from the United States, added Bosch.

While it is unclear if Mexican customers are interested in replacing U.S. suppliers long-term or are buying from South America as a negotiating tactic, Bosch said Adecoagro sees a chance to become a sizeable supplier on a permanent basis.

“I think we have an opportunity to be more than a negotiating strategy for Mexico,” said Bosch.

Canada, Mexico and the United States are meeting this week in a fresh round of talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which U.S. President Donald Trump has criticized for hurting U.S. manufacturing.

Adecoagro wants to slash logistics costs, boosting its margins and competitiveness. It is targeting a reduction in costs of 15 percent for this season’s upcoming crop, with about half of that coming from logistics.

The remaining cost-cutting will take place at farms, Bosch said.

BRAZIL SUGARCANE EXPANSION

    Adecoagro is well into a three-year expansion in its sugarcane capacity in Brazil, the world’s top producer and exporter of sugar, that will take it to 13 million tonnes from 10 million tonnes, Bosch said.

    The company wants to expand its milling capacity for that cane, looking at mills including those that commodities merchant Bunge Ltd (BG.N) said in 2013 it was looking to sell.

    “We have looked at many mills that are for sale, not just the Bunge ones,” said Bosch, adding that any such purchase would need to fit with the company’s low-cost model.

    With global sugar futures SBc1 trading around 14 cents per pound, the company has held off hedging much of next year’s production, Bosch said.

    It hedged about one quarter of the new crop at an average price above 18 cents per pound earlier this year, but has largely refrained since, awaiting better prices, he said.

    Reporting by Chris Prentice in New York and Karl Plume, P.J. Huffstutter, Tom Polansek and Mark Weinraub in Chicago, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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