Nutrien Ltd., the world’s largest maker of fertilizers, said it is seeking to sell its retail operations in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay in order to focus on Brazil and other global markets.

The Canadian company is prioritizing key markets in a bid to boost returns for investors, a spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg. 

Nutrien, which has been in South America for more than a quarter of a century, is working to recover after sharply missing profit expectations in the last three months of 2023 amid plunging fertilizer prices that hurt retail results. 

The company said in its annual report that Argentina’s currency controls meant it lost money when it transferred currency out of the country because it had to use a more expensive exchange rate. New President Javier Milei has promised to scrap the controls as he seeks to deregulate the economy.

Its exit from the Argentine retail business comes as the country seeks to cheapen the herbicide and fertilizer market for farmers by reducing import taxes on both inputs. 

Other companies have also abandoned Argentina’s tough business environment in recent years, including HSBC Holdings PLC and Walmart Inc. Bayer AG ditched its Argentine soy seed business in 2021.

Nutrien didn’t say what it’s planning to do with its 50 per cent stake in Profertil SA, a urea and ammonia manufacturing venture it has with Argentina state-run oil company YPF SA. YPF, under new management appointed by Milei, is looking to divest assets to focus on shale drilling.

Nutrien on Friday said it would continue to support all customers and partners through its divestiture process.