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Argentina prolongs beef export limits as it fights inflation

·2-min read
Argentina is one of the world's biggest exporters of beef (AFP/JUAN MABROMATA)

Argentina on Tuesday extended beef export restrictions until the end of October as it seeks to moderate skyrocketing domestic prices of the staple.

Exports will remain limited to half the 2020 average, said a resolution published in the government gazette.

It said steps introduced in May to limit beef exports -- a major earner for cattle-crazy Argentina -- have started to bear fruit by abating meat price inflation that reached 76.2 percent year-on-year in May.

The country is reeling from three years of recession and adverse economic impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. The meat price increase helped boost Argentine inflation, already among the highest in the world, to 51.8 percent year-on-year in July, according to the INDEC statistics institute.

The country is the fourth-largest exporter of beef in the world, and one of its biggest consumers per capita.

But poverty affects 42 percent of Argentines, and the government is trying to reduce the cost of living by implementing price controls.

In May, President Alberto Fernandez's government placed a one-month suspension on foreign meat sales.

In June, it announced a progressive resumption of exports but limited to 50 percent of last year's average monthly volumes until the end of August -- a deadline now extended by two months.

The government has also prohibited the export of seven beef cuts popular with Argentine consumers, including the family staple "asado," a barbecue cut, until December 31.

"In the short term, limiting foreign sales is an indispensable tool to guarantee Argentines have access to beef in the face of the sharp increase in consumer prices," said the government document.

Argentina exported some 897,500 tons of beef and cow leather worth $2.7 billion in 2020, primarily to China, neighbor Chile and Israel, according to the INDEC statistics institute.

Beef consumption in Argentina has been declining year after year, from a peak of 69.3 kilograms per person in 2009 to just under 50 kilograms in 2020, according to the CICCRA industry chamber.

ls/mlr/bfm

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