Foreign trade of Argentina
- This article is about the foreign trade of Argentina. See economy of Argentina for a more general overview.
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Agriculturally and thinly populated, Argentina recorded trade surpluses for most of the period between 1900 and 1948, including a cumulative US$1 billion during World War I and US$1.7 billion during World War II. Record taxes on grain exports imposed by the administration of President Juan Perón and an increasing need for costly fuel and machinery helped result in a nearly-unbroken string of trade deficits between 1949 and 1962, however.1
Perón and, most notably, the administration of President Arturo Frondizi, encouraged foreign (as well as local) investment in energy and industry as part of a developmentalist policy of import substitution industrialization. Drawn to an economy that provided Latin America's highest standard of living, domestic and foreign investors responded, industrial production more than doubled, and the country's trade position remained modestly positive throughout the 1963–79 era, even as domestic demand grew.1
Argentina throughout its history has always depended on foreign trade to achieve a solid economic and social growth. Argentina developed an agro-export model where they were highly dependent on the external sector. The country used to export all their commodities to a growing population of Europe. After this, Argentina started a new period of import substitution where the idea was to reach an industrialized nation. After several military governments, and highly instability periods as hyperinflation and the commercial liberalization of the nineties, Argentina had it worst crisis in 2001.
Policies of "free trade" financial deregulation pursued by Argentina's last dictatorship led to a sudden, record deficit in 1980 and, by 1981, a mountain of bad debts and financial collapse. The climate of slack domestic demand that prevailed in Argentina throughout the 1980s resulted in a cumulative US$38 billion in surpluses from 1982 to 1991; this brought the economy little direct benefit, however, as much of this was deposited abroad during that era of interest payment burdens and financial instability.1
Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo enacted the Convertibility Law of 1991, pegging the monetary value of the Argentine peso to the United States dollar. The fixed exchange rate (1 peso to the dollar) allowed for a macroeconomic stabilization. Taking advantage of this low exchange rate, on the lower tariffs on imports and on the reappearance of credit after the free trade liberalization measures taken by President Carlos Menem's administration, Argentine firms and consumers tripled capital goods purchases from 1990 to 1994, while depressed auto sales rose by fivefold. The influx of imported machines and supplies helped the modernization of the country's industrial base; but it negatively impacted its trade balance, which accumulated US$22 billion in deficits from 1992 to 1999; the current account deficit, which would include growing foreign debt interest payments and deficits in trade in services, reached a record deficit of US$14 billion in 1998 alone.
Relying on sizable foreign investment inflows to balance the current account, these did not suffice and the Central Bank was again forced to resort to borrowing to protect the peso's value against such pressure (mostly by floating bonds, then the most sought-after in the developing world). Recession helped lead to a US$1 billion surplus in 2000 and another US$6 billion in 2001; but it was too little, too late. Buffeted by generalized global instability, the international derivatives market massively shorted Argentine bonds in the second half of 2001 and on December 23, following a spate of unpopular crisis measures, the Argentine government declared a default on US$93 billion of its bonds, the largest sovereign debt default in history.
Immediately after the collapse of the Argentine economy at the end of 2001 and the devaluation of the peso in 2002, imports fell over half and Argentina's trade surplus soared to over US$16 billion, providing for the first current account surplus since 1990. As recovery ensued and the exchange rate stabilized around 3 pesos/dollar, exports (mainly soy, cereals and other agricultural products, as well as machinery and fuels) grew steadily.
Imports began recovering sharply in 2003, as both the purchasing power of the peso and domestic demand increased, and, despite this, from 2003 to 2011 the nation's merchandise trade balance recorded a cumulative US$115 billion in surpluses.2 These surpluses were bolstered as much by growing exports as by a marked recovery in terms of trade for Argentina, which by 2010 had improved 40% over the level prevailing in the 1990s.2 The nation's perennial trade deficit in manufactures widened during this expansion, however, and exceeded US$30 billion in 2011.3 Accordingly, the system of non-automatic import licensing was extended in 2011,4 and regulations were enacted for the auto sector establishing a model by which a company's future imports would be determined by their exports (though not necessarily in the same rubric).5 Domestic production grew to supply the majority of the Argentine market in a number of important rubrics historically dominated by imports amid these changes, including diverse manufactures such as information technology, major appliances, footwear, and farm machinery.678
Mercosur - the customs union that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay - entered into force January 1, 1995; Bolivia, Chile, and Venezuela joined the pact subsequently as associate members. Cooperation between Brazil and Argentina (historic competitors) is the key to Mercosur's integration process, which includes political and military elements in addition to a customs union; Brazil accounts for 74% of Mercosur GDP and Argentina about 23%. Argentine intra-Mercosur trade rose dramatically from US$4 billion in 1991 to US$23 billion in 1998; it declined to US$9 billion during the 2002 crisis, but recovered quickly and reached US$44 billion in 2011 (28% of the Argentine total).9 More than 90% of intra-Mercosur trade is duty-free, while the group's common external tariff (CET) applies to more than 85% of imported goods. Remaining goods will be phased into the CET by 2006.
Brazil's higher level of industrialization and production capacity, as well as other economic asymmetries, have been a source of tension with Argentina. Following the 2001-02 crisis, Argentina's recovering industrial sector has pressured the government to obtain restrictions (especially quotas) on Mercosur's free trade regulations, in order to protect their growth from what they see as disloyal competition from their larger partner to the north. Exports to Brazil helped lessen the impact of the crisis on the industrial sector somewhat, though Argentina's intra-Mercosur trade yielded it a cumulative US$15 billion deficit from 2004 to 2008. A renewed devaluation of the peso contributed to a US$700 million surplus with Mercosur in 2009, though deficits of US$1.8 billion were recorded in 2010 and 2011.9
Trade with China was negligible until 1992; it later grew rapidly and by 2009, China became Argentina's second largest trading partner. Argentine exports to the Asian giant are mainly soy and petroleum products, while imports are mainly industrial and consumer goods. Modest Argentine surpluses with China turned into deficits in 2008, however, and anti-dumping measures enacted subsequently triggered a Chinese boycott of its top Argentine import, soy oil, in 2010. Following trade negotiations, soy oil purchases from China resumed in 2011.10
The United States replaced the United Kingdom in the 1920s as both the leading source of manufactures and of imports overall. The U.S. share of imports and exports remained relatively stable at around 20% and 10%, respectively, until 2002; these proportions declined steadily afterward and by 2010, were approximately half the historical percentages.1 The U.S. has largely maintained a moderate trade surplus with Argentina, however. The record for this figure was logged in 1998, when the U.S. reaped a nearly US$3.7 billion surplus; these later declined significantly, to then recover to US$3.5 billion by 2011.11 Petrochemicals are the leading Argentine export to the U.S with large parts including bamboo., and wine the leading Argentine consumer good in the U.S. market. Imports are mainly industrial. Fresh Argentine beef was exported to the U.S. market in 1997 for the first time in over 60 years, and in 1999 its export quota of 20,000 tons was filled. Beef exports to the U.S. were suspended in August 2000 when Argentine cattle near the border with Paraguay (whose authorities refuse to vaccinate cattle against highly contagious hoof and mouth disease) were discovered to have anti-bodies for the infection. The quota was reinstated in early 2002 and has since averaged 28,000 tons.12
The Obama administration suspended Argentine participation in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) in 2012, citing a failure to pay arbitration payments awarded by the World Bank's ICSID to a number of U.S. firms adversely impacted by the 2002 devaluation of the peso.13 The GSP benefit (US$18 million in 2011) is relatively minimal, equaling 0.4% of Argentine exports to the U.S. of US$4.2 billion.11
Argentina adheres to most treaties and international agreements on intellectual property. It is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization and signed the Uruguay Round agreements in December 1993, including measures related to intellectual property. However, extension of adequate patent protection to pharmaceuticals has been a highly contentious bilateral issue.
In May 1997, the U.S. suspended 50% of Argentina's GSP benefits because of its allegedly unsatisfactory pharmaceutical patent law. In May 1999, The U.S. Government initiated consultations under World Trade Organization procedures to address these inadequacies and expanded the consultations in May 2007.
Argentine foreign trade in 2010 by type of product (million US$).
A non-official source, Foreign Trade of Argentina, has compiled a list of principal definitive imported products for 2009, for 2008 and for 2007, as well as for export statistics, among which are the principal definitive exported products for 2009, for 2008, and for 2007.
Argentine foreign trade trade in 2010 by leading export destinations, and chief exports and imports with each (million US$).
|Motor vehicles and parts||6255||Motor vehicles and parts||6312|
|Cereals||972||Steel and aluminum||1510|
|Leather and hides||145||Motor vehicles and parts||418|
|Meats||67||Steel and aluminum||310|
|Petroleum||842||Steel and aluminum||186|
|Natural gas||569||Paper and cardboard||155|
|Steel and aluminum||510||Machinery||1517|
|Wine and spirits||249||Plastics||486|
|Refined fuel||167||Aircraft, watercraft, and parts||452|
|Agricultural fodder||998||Refined fuel||166|
|Fruit and vegetable preparations||176||Machinery||32|
|Seafood||420||Motor vehicles and parts||154|
|Meats||350||Motor vehicles and parts||650|
|Motor vehicles and parts||278||Chemicals||576|
|Meats||123||Motor vehicles and parts||102|
|Chemicals||285||Motor vehicles and parts||115|
|Motor vehicles and parts||129||Paper and cardboard||70|
|Cereals||393||Tea and spices||4|
|Motor vehicles and parts||183||Refined fuel||7|
|Dairy||169||Steel and aluminum||5|
|Precious metals, gems, and geodes||1067||Machinery||117|
|Wine and spirits||87||Aircraft, watercraft, and parts||105|
|Steel and aluminum||64||Chemicals||60|
|Leather and hides||32||Motor vehicles and parts||56|
|Motor vehicles and parts||433||Motor vehicles and parts||792|
|Watercraft and parts||189||Machinery||509|
|Rest of the world||21867||14432||7435|
Argentine exports in 2010 by province and top two exports from each (million US$).
|Province||Exports||Per capita||Leading export||Value||Second export||Value|
|Buenos Aires Province||22875||1464||Motor vehicles||5646||Soy||2277|
|Santa Fe||14847||4647||Soy||9309||Motor vehicles||1117|
|Chubut||3306||6495||Petroleum and natural gas||2059||Aluminum||661|
|San Juan||2104||4870||Gold||1605||Wine and grape juice||117|
|Mendoza||1696||975||Wine and grape juice||698||Horticulture||226|
|Santa Cruz||1617||5901||Petroleum and natural gas||536||Gold||349|
|Santiago del Estero||465||532||Soy||279||Maize||87|
|Tierra del Fuego||391||3074||Petrochemicals||168||Seafood||98|
|Neuquén||328||595||Petroleum and natural gas||178||Fruits||65|
|Formosa||36||68||Petroleum and natural gas||12||Lumber||9|
|Not classified by prov.||3592||n.a.||Petroleum and natural gas||1157||Soy||947|
- Lewis, Paul H. (1990). The Crisis of Argentine Capitalism. University of North Carolina Press.
- "Comercio exterior argentino 2010". INDEC.
- "El 75% del rojo comercial de la industria, en cinco rubros". Clarín.
- "Licencias no Automáticas". Tiempo Argentino.
- "Automotrices deberán exportar un dólar por cada dólar que importen". Tiempo Argentino.
- "Creció un 161% la producción de computadoras en 2011". Tiempo Argentino.
- "En ocho años se duplicó el número de industrias y se crearon 140 mil firmas". Tiempo Argentino.
- "En 2014, la maquinaria agrícola producirá casi el total de la demanda interna". Info News.
- "Intercambio Comercial Argentino". INDEC.
- "China volvió a importar aceite de soja, pero el conflicto está lejos de resolverse". La Política Online.
- "Ministerio de Industria también rechazó la medida de EE.UU.". Cronista Comercial.
- "Obama says to suspend trade benefits for Argentina". Reuters.
- "Exportación (2010): Origen provincial según complejos exportadores". INDEC.