BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez said on Friday higher tariffs on food exports would help curb rising food prices, but admitted he lacked support in Congress to push through legislation aimed at increasing levies from the main cereal producer.
The South American country, the world’s largest exporter of processed soybeans and No. 2 for corn, is battling runaway inflation approaching 60%, which has forced the government to look for ways to bolster domestic supply and control the prices.
“We have to do something to decouple domestic prices from international prices. The way to do that is tariffs,” Fernandez told local station Radio Con Vos, adding, however, that if he sent such a bill to Congress now it would be rejected.
“These levies are a legislative matter and I need Congress to understand the issue and support a decision of this nature, if necessary,” he added, citing the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. , which caused bottlenecks in the supply of food and fuel.
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In March, the government raised export taxes on soybean oil and flour from 31% to 33% and established a wheat stabilization fund to lower local flour prices. Raising tariffs on soybeans, corn and wheat, however, would require congressional approval.
Argentina currently taxes shipments of wheat and corn at 12% and soy at 33%. Cereals are the country’s main export and the main source of foreign exchange, badly needed to replenish depleted reserves after years of debt crisis.
(Reporting by Eliana Raszewski and Lucila Sigal; Editing by Adam Jourdan, Kirsten Donovan)
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