Argentina has negotiated a new inflation-fighting gambit -- regulating prices of nearly 200 supermarket staples -- scheduled to go into effect January 1, the Commerce Department said Friday.

The move echoes a 60-day price freeze on mass market supermarket items last February that failed to slow the country's heavy inflation.

"We agreed on a basket of major consumer products," Argentine Commerce Secretary Augustin Costa told reporters at a press conference, reporting on the accord between the Economy Ministry and the big supermarket chains and their suppliers.

So far, some 175 products, including meat, fruits, vegetables, beverages, cleaning and sanitary products are on the list, which should ultimately grow to 200 items.

Costa said the list represents two-thirds of what a modest household consumes. He said the government would ensure prices are marked in accordance with the agreement.

Chinese supermarkets -- which are common, especially in urban areas -- have not signed the agreement, though the government said it hopes to include them soon.

The agreement, set to last one year, is "voluntary," Economics Minister Axel said.

Argentina has seen soaring inflation over the last several years, though the IMF accuses the country of underplaying it.

Official estimates of inflation are around 10 percent, while private institutes put the figure at around 27 percent.


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