The new government recently introduced new international trade regulations to redress the protective measures of the previous administration. The new regulations include the liberalisation of foreign currency exchange, the removal of import restrictions and the reduction of customs duties. The aim of these measures is to increase the volume of international trade to and from Argentina.
The Court of Appeals recently decided that shipper Bioimplant SA had to pay carrier Fedex the amounts that the latter had paid to Customs in fines and export tax along with interest, legal expenses and fees, following an inaccurate declaration on the air waybill of a shipment of pacemakers between Argentina and Ireland.
Argentina's already strict requirements for importing used or refurbished capital goods have been further tightened by a new decree, which recently entered into force. While the decree maintains the list of used capital goods which cannot be imported, it also establishes three different import duty rates applicable to used capital goods. New restrictions in relation to the refurbishment process have also been introduced.
The government recently abrogated the non-automatic licence required for the import of over 600 products, ranging from textiles and footwear to luxury cars and agricultural equipment. While this abrogation may help to reduce the bureaucratic nightmare associated with importing products into the country, it should not be mistaken for liberalisation of the foreign trade sector.
Argentina's foreign trade had a difficult year in 2012. Both importers and exporters suffered under a series of trade-restricting regulations enacted with one aim in mind: to obtain as much foreign exchange (mainly US dollars) as possible in order to pay for Argentina's ever-increasing energy imports bill. A number of trade-restricting regulations enacted in 2012 will continue to hinder trade in 2013.
The government recently published a resolution whereby it abolished the automatic licences required for importing a substantial number of goods. Although the demise of automatic licences in itself does not necessarily represent an improvement in the obstacles affecting imports, it should at least reduce the workload associated with the customs clearance of many goods.
The government recently suspended Economic Complementation Agreement 55 with Mexico regulating trade in the car industry. The bilateral trade balance with Mexico has shifted increasingly against Argentina, widening the trade deficit. Consequently, the government had been trying to renegotiate the agreement. This suspension is another example of Argentina's increasingly protectionist and unilateral trade policies.
As part of its aggressive policy to maintain its trade surplus, the Argentine government has recently introduced a new system imposing limits on payments for imported services. This system is similar in scope and operation to that in place for imports and is separately administered by the tax authority and the Central Bank (each using its own set of regulations).
Following the introduction of General Resolution 3252/2012, which requires importers to file an advance import affidavit before the definitive import of any type of goods, further details have now been issued regulating the affidavit process. The agencies that have adhered to the system have a 72-hour period (from the date on which the affidavit is filed by the importer) to make any comments.
In a new push against imports, the Argentine government recently issued a resolution requiring importers to file an advance import affidavit before the definitive import of any type of goods. Under the resolution, importers must file an affidavit before issuing a purchase order. The government will now have the power to administer the whole of Argentina's international trade and decide what gets in and what gets stuck at the ports.
Argentina's president recently participated in the latest summit of the Mercosur countries. At the summit a deal was struck to allow each member country to raise its common customs duty rates to a maximum of 35% on up to 100 items per country. The stated intent of this increase in duty rates is to help to combat "an avalanche of predatory exports" from other countries as a consequence of the international economic crisis.
The Federal Tax Authority's General Resolution was introduced to combat tax evasion and under-invoicing practices by creating a system for controlling the value of goods through the establishment of 'reference values'. However, the Argentine Fiscal Court has criticised the way in which the Customs Service determines and applies the reference value system, as it makes importing into Argentina more expensive.
Argentina's Customs Service is in the process of actively adjusting the customs value of imported goods to include royalties paid by an importer to an exporter. Local subsidiaries of multinational companies have been particularly targeted. Affected companies should reassess their position to determine whether it would be advisable to include such royalties in the customs value of the imported products.
The governments of the two biggest Mercosur economies recently announced the settlement of their latest trade row. After two weeks of intense bargaining, the industry minister of Argentina and the development minister of Brazil announced the details of the agreement reached. Time will tell whether this is real peace or just a truce in a trade relationship full of ups and downs.
The Argentine government is redoubling its efforts to curb the surge in imports that is threatening the surplus of the country's trade balance. Restrictions include an expansion of the list of goods covered by the non-automatic import licensing regime, as well as de facto restrictions imposed by Customs and other authorities at the time of processing imports.
While 11 anti-dumping investigations in total were initiated during 2008, nine have already been started so far in 2009. If this pace is maintained, 2009 will become one of the most active years in Argentine history in relation to the initiation of anti-dumping investigations since 1995 - the year that the World Trade Organization was created.