Argentina back to normal after 69-day crisis

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Presidents of the four farming entities will gather on Monday (two days earlier than expected) to analyse conflict with the executive. They will send a conciliatory message so as to finally sit with Argentine cabinet chief Alberto Fernandez to negotiate. This clash increasingly affecting economy started on March 11, when export tariff rise was announced. Slow reaction and government lack of skill to deactivate it come to light. Yesterday, farmers from the provinces of Buenos Aires and La Pampa announced that they would lift strike as of today. Shortly afterwards, Argentine Confederation of Buenos Aires and La Pampa Rural Associations (CARBAP) came out to deny so. This only shows how stale has the relationship between government and farm grown.

Argentine farm sector leaders will meet on Monday to search for common ground before starting talks with the government over an export tax hike that prompted the second strike in as many months.

President Cristina Fernandez' government says it is ready to talk to farmers in a bid to end a protest that has triggered food shortages and hit business, but insists that they go back to work first.

Farmers had planned to discuss their strike at a meeting on Wednesday but will meet Monday instead.

"We understand that we must narrow the gap ... and help facilitate talks," Eduardo Buzzi, head of the Argentine Agrarian Federation, told hundreds of farmers and farmhands.

"For that reason, the committee (of four main farm groups) will bring their meeting forward to tomorrow ... and will see how to pacify this country."

Farmers in the world's No. 2 corn exporter and No. 3 soy supplier are 11 days into a new strike over a sliding-scale export tax introduced in March that farmers say effectively caps prices for their goods.

The striking farmers have stopped sending goods to market, but blocking roads. The impasse has brought Argentina's soy market to a standstill.

"We can see it is a difficult situation and that we could become the villains of the piece. Of course I am in favor of making a gesture to reopen dialogue," Luciano Miguens, president of the Argentine Rural Society, told a local morning paper.

The protest has emptied stores in big cities of essential goods and comes amid global fears over food shortages.

Argentine banks and business took out an advertisement in newspapers calling on both the farm sector and the government to resume negotiations.

Farm leaders were already angry at government limits on exports aimed at controlling domestic food prices, and say the government has not yet made a concrete proposal on modifying the tax hike, despite drawn-out negotiations.

Fernandez has rejected their demands to roll back the tax hike, saying it is a central plank of a plan to contain inflation and redistribute windfall revenues from a global commodities boom.

Some fear the protest could slow growth in the major agricultural producer, which is South America's second largest economy and one of the world's fastest-growing.

The protest has prompted some Argentines to withdraw bank deposits, which in turn has prompted the central bank to sell hundreds of millions of dollars to avoid a depreciation of the peso.

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