Exporters sold US$5.1 billion at the “agro dollar III” rate since April

The preferential exchange rate for soybean exporters ended yesterday

Exporters sold US$5.1 billion at the “agro dollar III,” a US$1-AR$300 preferential exchange rate for soybean exports launched in April that ended yesterday.

More than US$1 billion of the total amount was liquidated last Wednesday by soybean exporters, a record-high for a single day.

The Export Increase Program III –commonly known as “agro dollar III”–allowed agricultural producers a limited time to export soybeans, other soy products, and regional agricultural products —such as yerba mate, wine, rice, tea, and wood— at the beneficial exchange rate of AR$300 to the dollar. The current official exchange rate is AR$239.33.

The program’s aim was to boost agricultural exports and strengthen international reserve accumulation in the midst of a historic drought. It is the third preferential exchange rate program launched for agricultural exporters since Sergio Massa took office in the Economy Ministry last August.

The liquidation deadline for soybean exporters was yesterday. For regional economies, the program will continue until August 31.

According to the Rosario Stock Exchange, 8.49 million tons were traded during the month and a half the measure was in force, a 46% jump compared to the volume traded during the previous “agro dollar” edition. Liquidation was also significantly higher than the US$3.15 billion sold then.

Its numbers, however, were lower than the first edition, when US$ 7.66 billion were liquidated.

The numbers and the reasons

The government’s objective was to collect around US$5 billion in 45 days in soybean-related exports alone, plus an extra US$4 billion from regional economies until August. This meant an expected total of US$9 billion that would serve to tide the sector until the next wheat farming season.

“The Export Increase Program III reached the goals we set with Sergio Massa of becoming a tool for fiscal balance and a contributor to economic growth,” Agriculture Secretary Juan José Bahillo tweeted.

However, not everyone agrees. Economic consulting firm Ecolatina said in a report published yesterday the program had “meager results.”

“Although the initial US$5 billion target was surpassed, it is worth clarifying that number applied only to soybean industry liquidations,” the report read. “We estimate the real target value was closer to US$9 billion, as it also included liquidations of regional economies. Although we will have to wait for the ‘agro dollar’ to conclude at the end of August to evaluate its final result, it is unlikely this figure will be reached.”

That is not all – mainly due to interest payments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and interventions from the Central Bank in the financial dollar exchange rates during a portfolio dollarization process by private investors, the government could not stop international reserves from draining.

Ecolatina says the low “absorption” of foreign currency liquidated by the program stood out: the Central Bank only obtained 28% of it, much less than the 65% and 75% it got in the previous two editions.

The consulting firm says logistical factors –such as port stoppage, delays in harvesting and sowing–, and economic incentive factors –such as political rumors, an increase in the exchange rate gap, a fall in international soybean prices, and expectations of a devaluation – may have informed the results.

“We do not rule out that a new edition of the “soybean/agro dollar” (or some other mechanism of the same style) could be implemented in the coming months to encourage foreign currency liquidation and increase dollar supply.”

-With information from Télam


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