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Argentina Eases Import Licencing Requirements, Lifts Foreign Exchange Controls, Removes or Lowers Export Taxes on a Range of Products

The Argentinean government recently adopted a number of measures designed to reduce or eliminate economic distortions, re-ignite economic growth, and attract much-needed foreign exchange in the form of loans and investments. First, the government has overhauled the country’s import licencing system as part of its on-going efforts to reduce the complexity of foreign trade procedures and facilitate cross-border commerce.

On 21 December 2015 the Comprehensive Import Monitoring System (Sistema Integral de Monitoreo de Importaciones (SIMI)) replaced the DJAI (Declaración Jurada Anticipada de Importación, or sworn advance import declaration) system for managing and processing import licences. Through SIMI the government will issue automatic licences for imports for consumption within Argentina of products under virtually all tariff lines. Licences will generally be issued within ten days, greatly increasing predictability for importers.

Non-automatic import licences will be required for specific goods due to their sensitive nature, such as textiles, toys, footwear, leather goods, home appliances, metallurgical products, automobiles and auto parts, tires, motorcycles and bicycles (a full list of tariff codes subject to non-automatic licencing requirements is available at http://www.infoleg.gob.ar/infolegInternet/anexos/255000-259999/257251/norma.htm). These licences will also be issued within ten days unless the application is incomplete, in which case authorities will have up to 30 days to complete their review and make a decision. Applicants for either type of import licence must submit through SIMI the same type of information required under the DJAI system; e.g., importer name and tax number and quantity, value, brand, model and origin of the product.

The government has also eliminated the export taxes on most goods of HS Chapters 1 through 24 and 41 through 53. The tariff lines listed below, including soybeans classified under NCM 1201.90.00, will continue to be subject to the export taxes indicated.

  • NCM 1201.90.00 (30 percent export tax, down from 35 percent previously)
  • goods classified under NCM 1208.10.00, 1507.10.00, 1507.90.11, 1507.90.19, 1507.90.90, 1517.90.10 (only mixtures of refined oils containing soybeans), 1517.90.90 (only vegetable mixtures and preparations containing soybean oil), 2302.50.00, 2304.00.10, 2304.00.90 and 2308.00.00 (only products containing soybeans) – 27 percent export tax
  • goods classified under NCM 4101.20.00, 4101.50.10, 4101.50.20, 4101.50.30, 4101.90.10, 4101.90.20, 4101.90.30, 4102.10.00, 4102.21.00, 4102.29.00, 4103.90.00, 4104.11.11, 4104.11.13, 4104.11.14, 4104.11.21, 4104.11.23, 4104.11.24, 4404.19.10, 4104.19.30, 4104.19.40, 4104.41.10, 4104.41.30, 4104.49.10 and 4104.49.20 – export tax of five or ten percent, although certain goods are exempt
  • goods classified under NCM 4501.10.00 (10 percent export tax), 4501.90.00 (10 percent), 4502.00.00 (five percent), 4707.10.00 (20 percent), 4707.20.00 (20 percent), 4707.30.00 (20 percent) and 4707.90.00 (20 percent)
  • goods classified under NCM 5101.11.10, 5101.11.90 and 5101.19.00 – five percent export tax

Separately, the Argentinean government has lifted all foreign exchange restrictions and is now allowing the peso to float against the U.S. dollar under a “dirty float” policy. Individuals and companies are now allowed to purchase U.S. dollars and other foreign assets subject to a US$2 million monthly cap, while importers will be able to purchase U.S. dollars to pay for goods already shipped to Argentina subject to a US$2 million cap through the end of 2015 and a US$4.5 million monthly cap from January through May 2016. The government will establish other mechanisms to enable importers to meet their payment obligations and will grant importers unfettered access to the foreign exchange market beginning on 1 June 2016.

As a result of this new policy, the peso depreciated by 39 percent from 9.7908 per US$ on 16 December to 13.6160 per US$ on 17 December but has since strengthened and stood at 12.9467 per US$ on 31 December, a 32.2 percent drop from 16 December. Meanwhile, the Argentinean Central Bank has announced a deal with the People’s Bank of China to convert into dollars approximately US$3.1 billion under the existing three-year currency swap mechanism between Argentina and mainland China in an effort to shore up the country’s foreign exchange position.

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