ARGENTINA has extended its tight restrictions on beef exports until the end of October, as the country seeks to rein-in domestic inflation and surging domestic beef prices.
An Argentine government gazette published this week said beef exports will remain limited to half the 2020 average for the month, for at least the next two months.
Argentina originally enforced a beef export ban in late May, saying the control measure would be used only for a month. The government said the limitation had started to bear fruit by reducing domestic meat price inflation that had reached 76.2pc year-on-year in May.
Argentina is reeling from three years of recession and adverse economic impacts from coronavirus. Domestic meat price increases had helped boost Argentine inflation, already among the highest in the world, to 51.8pc year-on-year in July.
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 placed a one-month suspension on foreign meat sales. That was eased in June, when some export trade was re-introduced, but limited to 50pc of last year’s average monthly volumes until the end of August. That control has now been extended by two months.
The government gazette also said exports had also been prohibited in total until the end of 2021 for seven beef cuts including shortribs, a barbecue cut popular with Argentine consumers.
Similar bans have been placed on Argentine beef exports in the past, when domestic prices have risen. Some have lasted 12 months or more.
“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,” the government document said.
Argentina’s beef exports last year accounted for 897,500t, with primary markets including China, Israel and neighbouring Chile. In Argentina’s absence, the US and Brazil have filled some of the void in frozen trade into China, with US volumes recently surpassing those from Australia.
Beef consumption in Argentina has been in long-term decline, from a peak of 69.3kg per person in 2009 to less than 50kg in 2020.