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Argentina-Brazil trade tensions rise

New Era, Namibia

Argentina-Brazil trade tensions rise

by Nampa/AFP

29 October 2009

BUENOS AIRES – Brazil’s ambassador to Buenos Aires was summoned to Argentina’s foreign ministry Tuesday amid rising trade tensions between the two South American economic powers.

Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana expressed his “preoccupation” to Ambassador Mauro Vieira over the difficulty Argentine truckers faced in moving exports into Brazil, according to a ministry statement.

The Argentine trucker difficulties followed Argentina’s decision months ago to erect protectionist measures against Brazilian textile imports.

Argentina and Brazil – the two most important members of the regional Mercosur trade bloc – are taking steps to shore up their national industries and farm sectors as they recover from the global financial crisis.

Taiana said trucks with Argentine farm produce were being held up at the Brazilian border without notice.

The delays were similar to those Argentina was imposing on Brazilian imports under the argument that it wanted to protect Argentine jobs.

Argentina’s fruit growers’ association CAFI said 400 trucks belonging to its member companies were stopped at the Brazilian border.

The country’s grains industry federation added that 20,000 tons of wheat flour had been caught up in the trade dispute.

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner this month demanded Brazil permit free entry to Argentine trucks.

Brazil, though, has expressed concern about the blocks on its own exports to Argentina, which fell by 42 percent in the first half of this year. Two other Mercosur nations, Uruguay and Paraguay, have also complained.

Argentina’s economy minister, Amado Boudou, tried to downplay the friction, saying that it was a minor spat that would be resolved.

“We have noticed that only six percent of total bilateral trade is affected by the conflict,” he told reporters. -