BUENOS AIRES, Oct 19 (Reuters) – Argentina’s umbrella food industry chamber said on Tuesday that a government proposal to freeze prices on some 1,650 food and household goods fell short of an offer the sector could accept and criticized officials for pushing a one-sided deal.
The South American country’s center-left administration is looking to freeze prices to tamp down resurgent inflation ahead of crunch midterm elections in November, where the ruling party is expected to lose ground against the opposition in Congress.
The government had flagged talks with the Coordinator of the Food Products Industries of Argentina (COPAL) on Monday to advance toward a deal it hopes will help rein in monthly inflation that spiked to a lofty 3.5% in September.
COPAL, however, said in a statement that the call from the government for price freezes did not give the food and beverage sector enough guarantees. The body says it represents 35 chambers and over 14,500 food and beverage companies.
“The approaches made so far reflect the lack of will on the part of the authorities to make an agreement with the sector,” COPAL said, criticizing the government for not taking proposals from companies in the sector into account.
“The industry is not the cause of the inflation but suffers its consequences,” Daniel Funes de Rioja, president of COPAL, added in the statement.
COPAL said the food and beverage industry was “willing to reach an agreement on price freezes” but called for “genuine dialogue instead of unilateral decisions.”
Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Mark Porter
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