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10 days to harvest

Argentina fails to unblock the entry of table grapes to Brazil

Since May, Brazil has blocked the entry of Argentinian table grapes due to health issues. The Foreign Trade Chamber warned of the consequences.

The table grape export sector started the countdown: only 10 days from the harvest in San Juan (Argetina) of table grapes destined for export, national health authorities still can't unblock Brazil's ban on table grape imports.

That jeopardizes a business that last year moved almost USD 18 million, with exports of 49.8 million kilos of grapes to Brazil, one third of local production. "Today export is not viable and harvesting begins in late November, to early December," said Antonio Gimenez, president of the Foreign Trade Chamber of San Juan, yesterday referring to the import block that was established in May by Brazil when the bilateral relationship was going through a hard time, and was interpreted as retaliation for Argentine barriers to Brazilian products.

The entity that groups the entire agribusiness export sector in San Juan, warned yesterday "of the unwanted and serious consequences that could lead to the loss of that market for the coming season," he urged for a solution to be found at once and expressed his support to the efforts that have been made by the provincial Government before national authorities. Tomorrow there will be another meeting between the health authorities of both countries, but in the previous one no solutions were reached, so the uncertainty has grown in the sector.

If exports are not unblocked, the consequences will not only be for the exporter but also affect "thousands of jobs", he warned employers. "If grapes are not exported to Brazil, no other market can absorb the Red Globe variety because it will saturate markets," said Maximiliano Turcumán from the firm San Juan Trade. He also explained that a third of the harvest will not go through the packing plants that provide important wages to workers.

"We start to harvest on December 7 and employ approximately 450 people to do the packing. We have been exporting to Brazil for 5 years. It will be hard to think of placing our grapes in other markets. Russia and Europe are very cautious, they are not buying volume," said Fabian Macenco, from Argentine Lemon, in Pocito. "There is no plan B, grapes will go to the domestic market and that is not good for anyone. The price will come down since there is so much offer of grapes. Thus generating a market problem," he added.

Exporters also warned that what is not sold to Brazil (San Juan has 90% of national exports) will be lost in the hands of Peru and Chile. "We can not recover that market any more," said Turcuman.

Meanwhile, with the hope that Brazil opens the entry of grapes with prior treatment, the Ministry of Production continues with the construction of a bromide plant in Albardón. But Gimenez said that the industry hopes to "gain entry without bromination" and pointed out a FAO report that calls for these techniques to be limited.

Source: Infocampo

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