Insight – Impact of Argentinian wheat and maize export restrictions

2 March 2022

On 17 December 2021, the Argentinian Government introduced variable export quotas for wheat and maize. These quotas are the latest in a series of measures intended to reduce Argentina’s rising domestic food prices by limiting exports.

The recently announced Argentinian export quotas are shown in Table 1. Quotas will be adjusted depending on domestic production and demand. Once the quota limit is exceeded, businesses can only export if they have an additional export permit.

Table 1: Argentinian maize and wheat exports quotas as at 15 February 2022

  2020–21 MY1 (Mt2) 2021–22 MY (Mt) 2022–23 MY (Mt)
Maize 41.6 25.0 Not published
Wheat Not published 14.53 2.0

1 MY=Market Year. The Argentinian marketing year for wheat is December–November and March-–February for maize.
2 Mt=Megaton (1 million tons)
3 Revised up from 12.5mt on 6 January 2022

Impact on Argentinian wheat and maize exports

The impact of the quotas on Argentinian exports is expected to be limited in the immediate term. However, the initial quotas for the 2021–22 maize harvest and 2022–23 wheat harvest are well below average export volumes. Quota volumes are likely to be adjusted upwards closer to harvest. The introduction of quotas does increase uncertainty about future Argentinian wheat and maize exports.

Figure 1 shows previous Argentinian wheat and maize exports against the recently announced quotas. Both the 2021–22 wheat and 2022–23 maize quotas are well below previous export volumes.

Figure 1: Argentinian export quotas against historical volumes of wheat and maize exports

Fig 1. Argentina export quotas

Implications for Australian exporters

In 2020, Argentina was the world’s second largest exporter of maize and seventh largest exporter of wheat. If quotas reduce Argentinian exports, the price of wheat, maize and substitute products is likely to rise in international markets.

Argentina competes with Australian wheat exporters in key markets, including Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. Export quotas may reduce competition in these markets in the future.

Australia is also seeking access for wheat exports to Brazil. If access is granted, reduced Argentinean wheat exports may create opportunities for Australian wheat.

Lower Argentinian maize exports could create opportunities for Australian maize exports to Korea. Australia exported $31 million of maize to Korea in 2021 (Source: ABS 2022).

Figure 2: Argentinian wheat and meslin exports, 2016–2020
Fig 2. Argentina wheat exports

Figure 3: Argentinian maize exports, 2016–2020
Fig 3. Argentina maize exports

Resources

Micor has trading partner import requirements for wheat and maize exports.

The United States Department of Agriculture has published a summary of the export restrictions. The summary includes links to the relevant Argentinian government announcements (Spanish versions).

The Australian Government’s network of Agriculture Counsellors provided information for this article. More information about the Agriculture Counsellor network, including contact details, is available on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website.

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