Truckers and Brazilian government reach agreement that could end weeklong protest

The government and truck drivers unions have reached an agreement meant to end the weeklong protests by Brazilian truckers, but many drivers continued to block roads on Thursday, causing shortages of gasoline and other products.

The Transportation Ministry said the government agreed Wednesday night to avoid fuel price increases for at least six months, lower highway tolls and suspend for one year the repayment of truck-purchase loans made by the National Development Banks.

Freight cost calculations also will be revised. Truckers have been demanding they be based on the distances traveled to deliver goods and not on tonnage.

Despite the agreement many truckers continued protesting on Thursday blocking roads and highways in at least six states and causing shortages of gasoline and other products.

Transportation Minister Antonio Carlos Rodrigues told reporters that the agreement would only be implemented as soon as truckers unblock all highways.

Dilmar Bueno, president of the National Confederation of Autonomous Truck Drivers told reporters that despite the agreement "I cannot guarantee the protest will end."

"The drivers must evaluate what they have achieved and determine if they should stop or continue the protests."

The National Transportation Command, a truck drivers movement, said on its Facebook page that that it would continue blocking highways.

Truckers began their protest on Feb.18 by blocking a highway in the soybean-producing state of Mato Grosso. The movement quickly spread and by Wednesday they were blocking highways, mostly in the agriculturally rich south, southeast and central-western parts of Brazil.

The protest has caused delivery delays and shortages of diesel and gasoline as well as products such as soybeans, milk and meat.

Brazil is the world's leading supplier of sugar, coffee and orange juice and the second biggest producer of beef and soybeans. So far the protest movement has not affected the shipment of those products since ports have sufficient stocks to load incoming ships.