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ECONOMY | 07-10-2019 10:43

Agricultural levy on exports will remain if I'm elected, says Fernández

Existing retentions on grain exports "are unfortunate," Fernández said in an interview over the weekend, but he indicated they would remain should he win election.

Presidential frontrunner Alberto Fernández said over the weekend that he likely maintain the Mauricio Macri administration's existing tax policy on agricultural exports, if elected on October 27.

Existing retentions on grain exports "are unfortunate," Fernández said in an interview over the weekend.

But "with a fiscal deficit like the one left by Macri it is very difficult to think of relieving the pressure," he argued in a radio interview quoted by state-news agency Télam and the website of the La Nación newspaper.

"I would like us to agree on how to solve it, not impose it. Let's sit down and talk about it and see how we solve it," said the Frente de Todos presidential candidate, who is the favourite to this month's presidential vote.

In 2008, the president introduced a new tax on crop exports worth four pesos per dollar in the wake of the economic downturn, despite previously describing such a policy as a "bad tax." At present, all shipments of primary agricultural exports face a levy until 2020, meaning payments will depend on commodity prices and the exchange rate.

 

That measure was a turnaround for the Cambiemos (Let’s Change) administration, which had sought to repeal existing taxes introduced by previous governments. 

Fernández said any government he led would seek to tackle food poverty and hunger in Argentina, declaring he would call on "the State" and "all" sectors to do their part.

Among proposals, he said it would help "if everyone donates one percent of what they produce."

"What encourages me most is the will of everyone, who have realised that this was not the model," he said, referencing the Macri administration's economic model.

However, he stressed that his government would have to move from "the policy of imposition to that of consensus."

Agricultural levies have been controversial in the past in Argentina, with the issue proving to be a sore point of contention between producers and the previous government led by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

In 2018, tensions boiled over between Fernández de Kirchner's administration and grain producers when the government sought to increase export duties on soybean shipments, prompting street blockades, demonstrations and food shortages

– TIMES/AFP/TÉLAM

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