BUENOS AIRES, June 7 (Reuters) – Cereal exports from Argentina could be affected by a seven-hour strike by customs officials on Tuesday, as authorities demand priority access to coveted COVID-19 vaccines, said Monday the port manager. .
“It appears that this will affect all exports from all ports in Argentina,” Guillermo Wade, director of the Chamber of Port and Maritime Activities (CAPyM), told Reuters.
The tug captains also left their posts last month to pressure the government to give them vaccines, as the South American grain plant is hit with a second wave of infections at the height of the season of soybean and corn harvest.
Argentina is the world’s third-largest exporter of corn and its leading supplier of soy-based livestock feed used to fatten pigs and poultry from Europe to Southeast Asia. The South American cereal plant also exports wheat, mainly to neighboring Brazil.
“Customs officers must be present for import and export operations, so we hope this will be resolved,” Wade added.
Such a short work stoppage was not expected to have a major impact on shipments from Argentina. But shipments could get bogged down if longer strikes are called.
Citing the lack of progress in negotiations with the government over access to vaccines, the Argentine Customs Union said in a statement on Friday that the strike would take place in the middle of the working day on Tuesday.
“Depending on the result, union actions could intensify after Tuesday,” said the union organization. A customs union spokesperson was unavailable for comment on Monday.
Exports from Argentina’s Pampas grain belt are the country’s main source of export dollars needed to help fund the government’s COVID-19 relief efforts as the country struggles to emerge from an economic recession that started in 2018.
More than 81,000 people in Argentina have died from COVID-19. Citing the recent increase in cases and deaths, Argentina’s oilseed workers union SOEA threatened to pull out on Wednesday.
“If by June 9 our colleagues do not start to be vaccinated, the only alternative which will remain to us to hear, will be to carry out a direct union action”, declared the SOEA. (Report by Hugh Bronstein and Maximilian Heath edited by Marguerita Choy)