Two Argentine consumer associations recently filed a collective action against the majority of airlines operating in Argentina in defence of passenger rights. The claimants alleged that the carriers should reimburse the difference between the airport fee paid by passengers in 2016 when their tickets were issued for flights in 2017 and the new airport fee, which was reduced from January 1 2017.
Following the issuance of Resolution 445/16 by the Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC), the National Directorate of Air Transport was tasked with establishing a system to evaluate airlines' compliance with their flight schedules. The aim is to increase air transportation efficiency for passengers and provide the ANAC with additional tools to evaluate the performance of scheduled carriers.
A number of aviation regulations were issued in Argentina in 2016, including an executive decree to protect claims arising due to the provision of insufficient or misleading information to passengers, consignors or consignees regarding the conditions of an air transportation contract. Further, Resolution 113/16 adopts the internationally recognised system of equal treatment between operators and does not give priority to any carrier, which was not previously the case.
The crew of a commercial airline invited a VIP passenger into the cockpit for the duration of a scheduled flight. The first-instance court decided that the crew and passenger should be charged under Article 190 of the Criminal Code, as their behaviour had violated safety regulations and posed a threat to the security of the aircraft, passengers and cargo and third parties on the ground, even though no harm had been caused.
The Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) recently issued a regulation modifying and deleting previous dispositions. Resolution 445/06 states that non-compliance with ANAC-approved schedules for scheduled carriers will be subject to fines only if the carrier delays a flight without providing the required ancillary services to passengers. If the carrier has no other option than to delay a flight, no fines will be imposed so long as the carrier complies with its obligations to passengers.
Since the Macri administration took office in December 2015, several resolutions have been passed to encourage and simplify foreign investments in Argentina. Two recent Central Bank regulations relate to the relaxation of additional foreign exchange restrictions and a new bank account regime which makes it easier for foreign financial institutions to invest in Argentina.
In 2016 there were several regulatory developments regarding the use of technology in the financial sector. The Central Bank of Argentina issued regulations aiming to integrate technological innovations in the financial sector to promote greater formalisation of the economy, increase access to banking services and facilitate access to and use of digital tools. These regulations highlight the Central Bank's intention to promote the use of new technologies for legal and financial transactions.
Since December 2015, a series of measures have been implemented to deregulate and implement progressively more flexible regulations regarding foreign exchange controls. Among other things, the changes relate to the acquisition of foreign currency, financial indebtedness and the repatriation of direct and portfolio investments by non-Argentine residents.
One of the major changes introduced by the amended General Companies Law is the possibility of setting up corporations formed by a single shareholder. While the introduction of single-shareholder corporations is a step in the right direction, the restrictions and requisites imposed therein evidence that this new type of organisation does not meet the expectations of the legal and business communities.
In its continued effort to promote the revival of the Argentine economy, the government recently submitted a bill to Congress to create a new type of simplified corporation. At present, in order to undertake a business venture in Argentina – no matter how small – an entrepreneur must set up a traditional company, which will be subject to the same rules and taxes applicable to well-established big businesses.
Argentina is one of Latin America's most innovative tech hubs and home to several pan-regional unicorn start-ups. However, until now, it lacked an adequate legal framework to fund start-ups through venture capital, crowdfunding platforms or seed capital. In order to boost local financing of new projects, Congress recently approved the long-awaited Entrepreneurship Law, which is set to change the start-up environment.
Argentina is slowly leaving behind a decade of over-regulation. As the country endeavours to make the transition from over-regulation to a private investment-friendly environment, expectations in the M&A sector are high. If the high-inflation and low-growth transition is overcome in the next few months, Argentina should regain significant attractiveness in the region and appeal to local and foreign investment.
The government is proposing an ambitious tax amnesty law which would allow taxpayers to disclose undeclared assets and extinguish any tax obligation relating to such assets by paying a penalty. The government proposal gives taxpayers the option to use the disclosed assets to subscribe to a three-year zero coupon bond and a seven-year 1% per year coupon bond.