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Argentina port workers to go on strike in the middle of soybean, corn harvest

The port workers in Argentina have decided to go on a one-day strike on April 28, the Maritime, Port and Naval Industry Federation (Fempinra) said April 19, citing bureaucratic delays in awarding port tenders.

The development comes right in the middle of Argentinian soybean harvest for 2021-22 crop year, raising soybean and corn supply concerns in the country that is heavily dependent on the ports.

“We reject the delays and bureaucratic procedures regarding the tenders for the metropolitan port and the trunk navigation system,” Fempinra said in a statement.

Argentinian ports command a lion’s share of country’s agricultural trade and even a day of inactivity could result in sizable losses to farmers and traders in the ongoing harvest season, a local commodity analyst said.

According to the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange, 14.1% of soybeans and 19.4% of corn have been harvested through April 13.

Argentina is the world’s third-largest soybean exporter and second-largest corn shipper. The country is also the biggest international supplier of soybean meal and oil.

The Fempinra announcement came just days after the truckers’ association Fetra ended its indefinite strike on April 14.

The government yielded to Fetra’s demand of 20% hike in freight rates. The authorities also promised normal supply of diesel to the truckers.

Road transportation in Argentina accounts for 86% of agricultural volume supply and the soybean and corn trade is heavily dependent on the trucking sector as it links the harvested grains from remote areas of the country to the ports.

Globally, soybean and corn prices have soared over 25% on the year amid severe drought in key regions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Platts assessed April 18 SOYBEX FOB Santos (Jun) at $680.98/mt, up 26% on the year, S&P Global Commodity Insights data showed. Argentina corn FOB Up River (Jun) was assessed at $317.72/mt, 29% higher on the year.
Source: Platts

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