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2/27/09

Argentina: Nationalized grains?

Just in case you don't know what world class silo areas look like these days. Forget those
quaint free-standing towers, this is the real deal.

Today I got this in my mailbox, kindly sent along by regular reader "Patria Grande".

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Argentina: May Nationalize Grain Commerce

February 27, 2009

Argentina’s government is considering the nationalization of its grain commerce, La Nacion reported Feb. 27. Federal Administration of Public Income (AFIP) chief Ricardo Echegaray said the government agency would purchase all of Argentina’s grain, flour, and oil production and ensure that domestic demand is met before exporting the remaining quantities. The National Office of Agriculture Commerce Control currently administers grain exports.

Any comment on this, Otto?

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Here's my comment: Right now the Argentine gov't is sat down with "El Campo" trying to work out a new deal on taxes. Both sides have made their point fairly, and away from some of the more inflammatory rhetoric the Campo says that the high tax regime is killing them now that the prices for Soya, Corn, Wheat etc are off their highs. They do have a point. Also, the gov't has been fair with them in this round of talks, it has to be said. There's a new deal on the table now that gives farmers a break (quite literally).

But the gov't is also mightily annoyed that most of the big agro players (and the co-operatives too) are just storing a lot of the grain and waiting for a combo of a new tax deal and higher market prices. With so much grain just sitting in silos the gov't isn't getting its tax income for sales abroad, hence the threat that Patria Grande sent along. The gov't will moan about "domestic demand" but that's just so much BS. Klishtina isn't worried about Buenos Aires bakeries running out of bread (cos they won't) and much more worried about the state coffers running out of moolah.

The bottom line is that for the moment it's a bit of posturing by the Argentina gov't to get the deal struck, but it's also a move that has a set of back teeth. If the agro boyz try to push the limit this threat could turn into action. So right now it's something to keep an eye on and not make into screaming NYT polemic headlines. The politics of soybeans.

UPDATE: I note Bloomberg is running the story too. True to Bloomie form, even in what passes for a 'report' it manages to quote just one side of the story and genuflects at the altar of free trade. Why doesn't anyone care for reporting the story as it is instead of shilling any more? If it bleeds it leads, that right?