Chilean agriculture groups demand government action on exchange rate
More than a dozen labor and business groups in Chile’s agricultural sector demanded Wednesday that the government of President Sebastian Piñera take action to stop the peso’s rise against the falling U.S. dollar, saying the situation is “unsustainable.”
If nothing is done, more action would be taken to pressure the government, said the leader of one group.
A letter signed by 18 groups representing growers, workers and exporters was delivered to La Moneda, the seat of government in Santiago, Chile’s capital. In it, they urged Piñera to live up to his campaign promises to improve the agricultural sector in Chile, including maintaining a stable exchange rate.
As of Thursday, the dollar was worth about 485 pesos, the lowest rate since 2008, when the Bachelet government intervened to stop the slide.
Piñera said last week while visiting the United Nations New York that the exchange rate was normal and that no action would be taken, Reuters reported.
“Today the dollar is neither competitive nor stable,” said Ramón Achurra, president of Frusexta, a growers association. He said that agriculture industry groups have talked with government officials, but have gotten “nothing but explanations, and we can’t live on explanations.”
A Chilean exporters group, ASOEX, which also signed the letter, estimates that Chile could lose U.S. $650 million this growing season if the exchange rate remains the same.
“Several countries have already reacted and we're calling attention (to the fact) that Chile still hasn’t reacted,” said Ronald Bown, ASOEX president.
The agriculture groups said Wednesday that they want a quick response from the government. Without it, they will take more action and have not ruled out a demonstration.
“We don’t want to do that, but in the last government, when the dollar also was very low, we held a democratic, calm demonstration,” Achurra said.