The first shipment of Argentine lemons to the United States in 17 years will set sail tomorrow from Rosario, and President Mauricio Macri marked the occasion today in Tucumán, Argentina’s lemon heartland.

The departure of the 25 tons of refrigerated lemons is a symbolic first shipment, but marks the opening up of a market for Tucumán producers that is likely to be lucrative. Some estimates have placed the revenues at US$ 50 million if 150,000 tons are exported annually.

As such, President Mauricio Macri traveled to Tucumán today along with Agro-Industry Minister Luis Etchevehere and was joined by Governor Juan Manzur. Speaking there, the president said that the shipment was a reminder that the government is seeking to “take high quality [Argentine] products to supermarket shelves around the world” and that policy changes put into place by his government were designed to help regional economies.

Macri mentioned China, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, and Canada as destinations where new Argentine goods are exported or where discussions are undergoing. He also visited a lemon processing plant today.

Calling it a “historic day,” Manzur told radio La Red that “it was a joint effort between the national and provincial governments, making it a turning point for the regional economies and exports.”

President Mauricio Macri tours a lemon processing plant in Tucumán province today. (Argentine Presidency handout)
President Mauricio Macri tours a lemon processing plant in Tucumán province today. (Argentine Presidency handout)

The lemon exports also bring to an end the back-and-forth in the US over allowing Argentine citrus – following a decision by the outgoing Barack Obama administration to green-light shipments, a brand-new Donald Trump presidency froze the measure. Further discussions finally resolved the matter.

Tucumán has more than 45,000 hectares dedicated to the cultivation of lemons.