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BUENOS AIRES: Argentina’s grains exports hit $1.25 billion in January, up 64% versus a year earlier, industry data showed on Thursday, a boost for new libertarian President Javier Milei who sharply devalued the peso currency after taking office in December.

The surge in sales, also up around a quarter versus the previous month, followed an over 50% devaluation of the peso, which narrowed a gap between the official exchange rate and widely-used parallel rates to get around tight capital controls. That made it more attractive for local producers of soy, corn and wheat to export their produce because they would get more pesos for their overseas sales made in dollars.

“The inflow of foreign currency for the month of January is the result of the new agricultural dollar regime and the macroeconomic movements of the new government that impact the decisions to sell grains,” said grains export chamber CIARA-CEC.

Argentina is one of the world’s top exporter of processed soy, the no. 3 for corn and a major supplier of wheat. Its embattled economy with over 200% inflation and tough currency controls has long created distortions for grains trading.

Milei has pledged to fix Argentina’s economic crisis by de-regulating the economy, undoing capital controls and boosting private enterprise, but faces a challenge in Congress and from critics who say his plans will worsen already high poverty levels.

The South American nation is home to major global grains traders such as Cargill and Bunge. Grains exports are the country’s top source of foreign currency, desperately needed to rebuild depleted central bank reserves.

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