WASHINGTON: Argentine farmers are expected to harvest at least 15 million tons of wheat in the 2016/17 crop year versus 11.3 million in the previous season, Agriculture Minister Ricardo Buryaile said. Wheat planting in Argentina expanded dramatically when President Mauricio Macri eliminated export taxes soon after his December inauguration. He was elected last year on a platform of dismantling the strict controls that the previous government had placed on Latin America’s No. 3 economy. “We expect about 15 million tons, at a minimum,” the minister said while attending the Argentina Business and Investment Forum.
The Macri government has invited CEOs from around the world to the forum in Buenos Aires to discuss possible capital investments in the country, which is the world’s No. 3 soybean export and a major international wheat supplier. Argentine farmers likely planted 5.19 million hectares with wheat this year, the Agriculture Ministry said. Argentine wheat is harvested mainly in December and January. Argentina still collects a 30% tax on soybean exports, lowered from 35% by Macri in December. The president has vowed to keep cutting the soybean export tax by 5 percentage points per year but it is not clear when the next cut will come. “Export taxes are wrong and we will continue eliminating them,” Buryaile said. But the timing of the next soybean export tax cut will depend in part on the government’s fiscal position, he added.