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ECONOMY | 05-03-2020 17:28

Government officially ramps up taxes on soybean exports

Argentina, world’s biggest exporter of the soy products and tariffs, hikes duties from 30% to 33%.

The government on Thursday increased tariffs on soybean exports just three months after hitting the agricultural sector with higher taxes.

Argentina is the world’s biggest exporter of the soy products and tariffs have now been hiked from 30 to 33 percent.

When President Alberto Fernández took over in December he imposed 30 percent tariffs on raw soybeans, as well as cooking oil and livestock feed made from the oilseed, and 12 percent taxes on other agricultural products such as maize and wheat as part of a plan to tackle an economic crisis.

Argentina has been in recession for more than 18 months while it is desperately trying to renegotiate some of its debt – which stands at more than 90 percent of GDP – to stave off a damaging default.

The increase was published in the government's Official Gazette on Thursday following days of meetings between Agriculture Minister Luis Basterra and representatives of the farming sector.

In 2008, then-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (currently vice-president) provoked a clash with agricultural businesses by ramping up export taxes.

The country was practically paralyzed by the ensuing protests.

Fernandez, who was Cabinet chief at the time, resigned.

"Once again it will be the countryside that will pay the debts and costs of a crisis we didn't generate," said the Rural Society of San Pedro, one of the most active agricultural interest groups during the 2008 face-off.

Argentina's GDP shrank by 2.1 percent in 2019 after a similar fall of 2.5 percent the year before.

Inflation is at more than 50 percent while poverty and unemployment are on the rise.

In 2019, Argentina exported 29.65 million tons of soy flour, 10.12 million tons of soybeans and 5.29 million tons of soy-oil.

Argentina is the world's largest exporter of soy flour and in 2019 become number one in soya oil, too.

– TIMES/AFP

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