SÃO PAULO, Brazil – JBS SA will ease Argentine beef exports to focus on domestic sales after government controls prompted the company to close a plant, according to a Bloomberg News report.

JBS plans to reduce exports to about a third of total sales in Argentina from roughly half in 2010, Artemio Listoni, local chief executive officer, said in an interview in Buenos Aires. Two-thirds of sales will be headed for the local market, he added.

JBS SA confirmed on Jan. 9 plans to close its meatpacking plant in Venado Tuerto, Rosario province. The company cited the need to maintain its competitiveness as the rationale behind the plant closure. However, JBS denied claims the company would leave Argentina altogether.

JBS operates plants in the Argentine cities of Rosario, Pilar and Pontevedra and doesn’t plan further closures, Listoni said. However, the company is expanding its Rosario facility, he said.

JBS fell 0.7 percent to 5.83 reais at 12:28 p.m. in Sao Paulo trading, according to Bloomberg. The stock plunged 16 percent in the last 12 months through Jan. 9 in line with the decline in Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa index, the news agency reported.