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Argentine grain exporters report delays at Rosario port

By Maximilian Heath

SANTIAGO, March 16 (Reuters) - Argentina's export chamber on Monday reported delays in shipping cargo out of the country's primary port in Rosario because of confusion over a government order to seal its borders to contain the coronavirus.

Argentina is a major exporter of soybeans and the world's top seller of the processed beans as soy oil and meal, and ​​Rosario port on the Paraná River handles about 80% of those exports.

President Alberto Fernández announced on Sunday that Argentina's borders would close to foreigners for 15 days in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Gustavo Idígoras, head of CIARA-CEC export company chamber, said that the measure had caused hiccups at Rosario.

"There are some delays because of uncertainty about how to operate," Idígoras told Reuters, adding that the sector was speaking to the government about how to resolve the issue. He said similar wrinkles with operations in other ports around the country had already been ironed out.

A source from the agroexport sector, who asked not to be identified, said the issue had been created by "health authorities strictly applying the border closure", despite the ban not having been applied to cargo.

The Argentine Ministry of Transport did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The delays come at a time when the export season is not yet in full swing. Argentine farmers have just started harvesting corn and the soybean harvest will begin in the coming weeks.

To Sunday, Argentina had reported a total of 56 cases of coronavirus, from which two people have died. (Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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