Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today – economic turmoil and multi-million-dollar debts means Argentina is suffering an import crisis that's affecting some of the nation's favourite fruits.
Producers in Bolivia and Paraguay have suspended exports of bananas and pineapples to Argentina due to a cumulative debts wracked up by importers totalling some US$22 million.
Experts say the trade conflict could lead to limited availability of such fruits in the local market – in and around the capital, grocers are already reporting shortages.
The two nations are among the top three nations for banana importing to Argentina.
According to industry sources quoted in Paraguayan media on Friday, the MENICOB Inter-Sector Banana Competitiveness Round-Table and the CAPABAP Paraguayan Chamber of Bananas and Pineapples decided to stop shipments to Argentina at the start of the week.
The two groups complained they have not received a response to enquiries from the national government made 25 days ago.
In Paraguay, reports said that so far this year they have sent 3,200 lorries loaded with 27 tonnes of fruit each, valued at US$30.3 million in total, but payments had been significantly delayed for six months, with only US$20 million having been paid so far.
On the Bolivian side, producers report that they have not received payments since August, with a debt now amounting to US$12 million. This delay is causing serious economic problems for thousands of families of producers, local media reported.
The US£22 million debt represents 9.4 percent of the US$235 million destined for the arrival of bananas and fruits throughout 2023, according to data from the INDEC national statistics bureau.
In Argentina, local importers express their concern due to the delay in authorising access foreign currency when using Argentina's SIRA import system, with waiting periods of up to 180 days. This situation is complicating the outlook for the importers even further.
Demonstrators protested the lack of payment at Argentina's embassies in both La Paz and Asunción earlier this week.