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New Price Watch list set for release

Trade Secretary Augusto Costa tours small shops in Rosario, Santa Fe, on March 19.

Reviewed agreement includes adjusted prices, new products

The government is finalizing the details of the reviewed Price Watch product list, with the main modifications including adjusted rates and between five and seven new products with approximately 50 varieties.

The new list, which will reportedly before Tuesday, is likely to reflect the effect of January’s steep devaluation on the costs incurred by companies throughout the value chain.

Yerba, pasta, sugar and diapers are the main products that will incorporate new brands and receive amendments to their prices.

Ninety-one days have elapsed since the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration implemented the first edition of the agreement with supermarkets and suppliers, with Trade Secretary Augusto Costa emphasizing the deal would be subjected to quarterly review, which marked a difference with the price-freeze implemented by his predecessor, Guillermo Moreno, which was ultimately regarded as a failure.

According to InfoNews, the president met with Costa and Economy Minister Axel Kicillof on Friday to iron out the final intricacies of the updated scheme.

Yesterday, Chinese-run supermarket chamber head Miguel Calvete vowed that during this second phase, “stocks will be guaranteed and shortages will be fewer” than those seen during the last three months.

Calvete admitted that supermarkets consider a “shortage of between 10 and 15 percent to be normal, but not 40 percent, as occurred during the first three months.”

The new list will “contain close to 250 articles,” he said, also confirming that certain prices “will suffer an adjustment,” but that “some will go down.”

“What the big companies have to to is normalize supply, (and) produce much more, because people are massively adhering to this price scheme, more than other initiatives that have been tried in the past,” he continued.

Speaking to Noticias Argentinas, Calvete said he expected the update to be implemented “between Monday and Tuesday,” adding his chamber was awaiting information from the government.

“We have proposed the incorporation of small producers, co-operatives and regional producers to help them access the market. This could lead to a drop in prices,” he said.

Calvete also noted he had requested the Trade Secretariat extend “small producers’ participation by 180 days to allow ... for complete supply in the market.”

Costa recently explained the new phase for the accord would be marked by “three things: incorporating new products, new companies and correcting prices that need correcting.”

CAS supermarket chamber Fernando Aguirre revealed that “new supermarkets will be added from the interior of the country,” adding that Costa had assured him that “this is not a price freeze, so prices will be revised.”

The measure will be unveiled a week before the INDEC national statistics bureau releases its official data on inflation for the month of March.

The government has also sought to address inflation by expanding the price agreement to areas including the metallurgic sector and fuel prices at petrol stations.

The latest addition came last month, a specific measure fixed an 18 peso per kilo of bread price, while Fernández de Kirchner administration is reportedly still negotiating a deal with the automobile sector.

Herald with Télam

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