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Argentina: Producers request the government to declare a state of emergency for blueberry
Producers from Argentina's Blueberry Committee (ABC), which accounts for more than 80% of the country's blueberry exports, were received today by MPs from the different political parties that make up the Commission of Economy and Regional Development.
The blueberry industry asked the deputies to declare a state of emergency and to work on measures that will help boost the sector in the medium and long term. They also asked them to take mitigation measures that can generate an effect of greater competitiveness for producers in the short term (and have a genuine impact in 2017), especially for small producers.
"We thank the legislators who listened to us voice the situation of Argentina's blueberry producers. Between 2015 and 2016, the export volume increased by nearly 15 percent, but it was the worst year ever in economic terms. Our industry needs concrete measures to gain competitiveness, focusing on labor, production, and logistical costs," said Carlos Stabile, the president of ABC.
During the meeting, the ABC said this activity, which is carried out in the NEA, NOA, and Buenos Aires, had an investment of US $ 137.5 million, 2,750 planted hectares, an annual output of 21,000 tons, and that they exported more than 17 thousand tons of blueberries per year.
"Net exports in FOB prices amount to $110 million, and the main destinations are the USA (65%), the UK (15%), Continental Europe (15%), Canada (4%), Singapore (1%), and Brazil (1%), among others, as the country currently exports to 26 international markets. We work to position Argentina as the world's supermarket," stated Stabile, who insisted that "expediting the process to open the Chinese market would be very positive for producers."
Meanwhile, lawmakers noted the various problems of the sector due to its lack of competitiveness, which makes Argentinian blueberries lose ground in international markets. "It is necessary to review all tax and social security contribution policies, especially reducing the tax on labor, which is much higher than in other countries and makes us lose competitiveness," said Stabile.
ABC said they directly employed 700,000 daily workers, and that they were a big supporter of occupancy levels in the productive regions. "We know that the wages of Argentine workers is the highest in the region and this is positive because our social standard is higher than in other competing countries. So the goal is to find a way of improving our competitiveness without affecting the workers or producers," said Stabile.
At the close of the meeting, the deputies said that the Commission was a link between the productive sectors and the legislature and that the next step was to put together a committee of legislators that would go to producing areas to hear the issues directly from producers in 60 days maximum.
Among other points, the legislators pledged to seek progress on the Collective Bargaining Agreement (an express request of the ABC); dialogue with the field entities interested in representing the ABC in the appropriate worktables; and help to boost other proposals, such as phytosanitary issues and the VAT refund.
The ABC is a civil association that brings together producers, exporters and regional chambers of Argentinian blueberries. It brings together the regional industry, which are the Association of Producers of Mesopotamia (Apama), the Argentina Chamber of Producers of Blueberries and other Berries (CAPAB), and the Association of Producers of Blueberries from Tucuman (APRATUC).
Publication date: 3/20/2017
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