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Argentina ramps up taxes on soya exports

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Buenos Aires (AFP)

Argentina's government on Thursday increased tariffs on soya exports just three months after hitting the agricultural sector with higher taxes.

Soya is Argentina's biggest export commodity and tariffs have now been hiked from 30 to 33 percent.

When President Alberto Fernandez took over in December he imposed 30 percent tariffs on soya exports and 12 percent taxes on other agricultural products such as corn and wheat as part of a plan to tackle an economic crisis.

Argentina has been in recession for more than 18 months while it is desperately trying to renegotiate some of its debt -- which stands at more than 90 percent of GDP -- to stave off a damaging default.

The increase was published in the government's official bulletin on Thursday following days of meetings between Agriculture Minister Luis Basterra and representatives of the farming sector.

In 2008, then-president Cristina Kirchner -- currently the vice-president -- provoked a clash with agricultural businesses by ramping up export taxes.

The country was practically paralyzed by the ensuing protests.

Fernandez, who was cabinet chief at the time, resigned.

"Once again it will be the countryside that will pay the debts and costs of a crisis we didn't generate," said the Rural Society of San Pedro, one of the most active agricultural interest groups during the 2008 face-off.

Argentina's GDP shrank by 2.1 percent in 2019 after a similar fall of 2.5 percent the year before.

Inflation is at more than 50 percent while poverty and unemployment are on the rise.

In 2019, Argentina exported 29.65 million tons of soya flour, 10.12 million tons of soya beans and 5.29 million tons of soya oil.

Argentina is the world's largest exporter of soya flour and in 2019 become number one in soya oil, too.

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