March 1, 2012
Argentine government sources confirmed yesterday that despite the recent signing of a much lauded treaty between Argentina and China to promote food exports—particularly maize (corn) to China, access to the Chinese market will still be restricted due to inconsistencies in health and safety regulations between both countries.
Argentina is the second-largest exporter of corn in the world, after the United States. At current market prices, the Argentine Ministry of Agriculture’s 2012 estimates for corn—between 20.5 and 22 million tons—could generate up to $6.2 billion in revenues for both the private sector and additional tax revenues for the government.
Several Argentine firms have complained anonymously about the disputed health and safety clauses, including one senior executive who said, “No company will risk exporting maize to China because they have the power to reject the shipment once it arrives.” The Argentine Ministry of Agriculture quickly rebuked this claim, saying that “companies should not worry since [such clauses] are very common in bilateral treaties, and will probably not affect overall corn trade.”