August 27, 2018 / 9:16 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil top court says it will rule as soon as possible on freight law

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By Ricardo Brito

BRASÍLIA, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Brazil’s Supreme Court will rule as soon as possible on several challenges to the constitutionality of a law imposing minimum freight prices, but no ruling will come on Monday, Supreme Court Justice Luiz Fux said.

During a public hearing with the parties involved, Fux heard arguments for and against the law, signed by President Michel Temer on Aug. 9, but decided that the court would deliberate on the matter later.

The law requires truck freight prices to be equal to, or above, minimum prices set by Brazil’s national transport agency ANTT. Minimum prices will be published twice a year, by Jan. 20 and July 20. The law has prompted criticism and lawsuits from the industrial and agribusiness sectors.

The law was one of the government’s responses to end a nationwide Brazilian truckers strike in May that paralyzed shipping throughout Latin America’s largest economy for almost two weeks.

The supreme court may agree, partially agree or overrule arguments against the constitutionality of the law, Fux told journalists after the hearing ended, declining to specify a timeframe for a ruling. “There is the possibility of a middle ground solution.”

Oilseed crushers association Abiove - whose members include big grain handlers like Cargill Inc, Archer Daniels Midland, Louis Dreyfus Corp and Bunge - have called the law “backward” for reinstating policies that Brazil had relinquished in the 1990s. (Reporting by Ricardo Brito Writing by Ana Mano Editing by Matthew Lewis and Richard Chang)

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