Brazil agricultural agents strike; action seen slowing exports
SÃO PAULO, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Brazilian federal agricultural agents, many responsible for approving import and export shipments at the country's ports, airports and border crossings, began a strike for higher wages and against proposed government budget cuts.
The strike is expected to most affect Brazilian exports as striking agents will not be issuing international certificates needed to guarantee the origin of Brazilian farm products and their legal exit from the country, said Mauricio Porto, president of the union, known as Sindicato Nacional dos Fiscais Agropecuários.
"With the strike the certificates won't be issued and goods won't be able to leave the country," he said.
The strike adds another blow to Brazil's giant, but troubled agricultural sector which has seen prices fall from record highs in recent years as China's growth slows and the world economy remains sluggish. Brazil is the world's largest exporter of coffee, orange juice, sugar, frozen chickens, beef and in a near tie with United States as top soybean exporter.
The union is seeking wage increases that cover losses they believe they have suffered as a result of Brazil's stubbornly high inflation rate which was 9.53 percent in August, more than double the government's target of 4.5 percent plus or minus two percentage points.
The union said it will maintain services that are needed to ensure public and animal health and that it will not block the exit or entry of perishable and live cargos that cannot be warehoused.
The union, though, did not say how many members were on strike or how their strike is affecting work at the government offices where their members have walked off the job. (Reporting by Roberto Samora; Writing by Jeb Blount; Editing by Richard Chang)
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