October 18, 2018 / 5:07 PM / a year ago

Argentina transport union announces strike; could impact grain shipments

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Argentina’s transportation union announced late on Wednesday night that it would go on strike next week to call for an increase in hauling rates, in a move that could disrupt the nation’s grain shipments.

More than 80 percent of the country’s agriculture production is shipped by truck to ports. As a result, the strike could also impact some port activity, although it is currently the low season for grains.

The union, Federation of Argentine Transporters (FETRA), did not say how long the strike would last.

“We need regulation that, in this time of hyperinflation, help us with a trigger clause that automatically updates the tariff,” FETRA secretary Claudio Enri told Reuters on Thursday, in reference to rates paid to truck owners based on mileage driven.

Enri said the government last updated tariffs to account for inflation in July.

Argentina, the third largest economy in Latin America, is experiencing an economic crisis that has seen the peso lose more than half its value since the start of the year. Inflation in Argentina went up 3.9 percent in August and 6.5 percent in September, according to the country’s official statistics agency. It is expected to hit 42 percent by year’s end.

Argentina is a major supplier of wheat, particularly to neighboring Brazil. Its 2018/19 wheat harvest will begin in the coming weeks, which is expected to yield 19 million tons, according to the Rosario Grains Exchange. ( Writing by Cassandra Garrison Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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