Argentine truck protest enters third day, grain ports operational

Trucks blocking a highway are pictured near a burning barricade as Argentine truck drivers protest against shortages and rising prices for diesel fuel, just as the country's crucial grains harvest requires transport amid surging inflation, in San Nicolas, Argentina June 23, 2022. REUTERS/Miguel Lo Bianco

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentine truck unions extended a widespread protest over fuel price hikes and diesel shortages on Friday, but the dismantling of some road blockades meant that truck traffic and operations in the country's key Rosario grains ports returned to normal.

The protests, which started Wednesday, coincide with the peak period of the harvest cycle in the South American country, which is the world's top exporter of processed soy oil and meal, the No. 2 for corn and an important wheat producer.

Traffic around the grains port terminals was eased after authorities from the Santa Fe province dismantled road blocks late on Thursday, the Chamber of Port and Maritime Activities (CAPyM) told Reuters on Friday.

"Through judicial means, the pickets (roadblocks) were disbanded and this morning the situation was finally normal," said Guillermo Wade, CAPyM's manager.

Trucking and transport unions have slammed high fuel prices and shortages, which are linked to snarled global supplies and soaring costs due to the war in Ukraine. This month, the government raised required biodiesel content in diesel blends, hoping to alleviate the shortages.

Farmers have recently finished harvesting soybeans and are still harvesting corn. Most of the grain is transported by truck within Argentina, with river port Rosario serving as the starting point for 80% of the country's agricultural exports.

"The government continues to work to resolve the gasoil (diesel) supply situation throughout the country," energy secretary Dario Martinez said in a government statement.

(Reporting by Maximilian Heath and Miguel Lo Bianco; Edited by Nicholas Misculin and Alistair Bell)

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