Argentina is a member of MERCOSUR (Mercado Comun del Sur which brings together Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela), and whose aim is to create a free trade area, a common foreign tariff and an area of free movement of goods, services, capital and persons. Customs duties between the member countries were theoretically abolished in 1994, with many exceptions however, according to the Regimen de adecuacion (in Spanish) (Adaptation Regime). Certain products are protected such as sugar, textiles, steel, cars and car parts. This protectionism is applied through Customs restrictions and high Customs duties.
Companies that want to exchange local currency into foreign currency must ask of the “Administracion Federal de Ingreso Público”, AFIP (Federal Public Revenue Administration) for authorization.
In order to be imported, some products need a previous approval from the government. Pharmaceuticals, insecticides, medical devices are some examples. Some of these products require sanitarian certificates issued by a competent authority in the country of origin. This condition applies also to agricultural products, livestock and plant products.
Car parts products are under a quota system.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Transactions carried out within Mercosur are free of duty, except for the many exceptions.
Customs tariffs are applied to goods from outside Mercosur and are between 5% and 14% in most cases.
When companies import industrial tools for their own use, they can be exempted from import tax.
This Customs policy must be treated with precaution, insofar as the countries apply the recommendations of the central institution more or less, according to their economic situation. It should also be noted that re-exporting within Mercosur does not entitle you to an exemption from duties: so if you export a product to Argentina, to sell it on to Brazil, you will pay Argentine duty and then Brazilian duty.
In addition, to avoid companies under-invoicing, the Argentine Customs are entitled to apply a predefined value for the calculation of Customs duty. These reference values are not published, nor are the criteria which enabled them to be defined.
Argentina applies the Harmonized Customs System.
The regulations in force in Argentina establish that in order to carry out an international trade transaction, it is necessary to be registered as an importer or exporter with the Argentine Customs. This obligatory registration is carried out with a "single fiscal identification key" at the Directorate General of Taxes. For a certain number of products there is an automatic license procedure "formulario informativo" which officially allows the Argentine Authorities to identify possible problems when they are imported. This license concerns about 600 products of different kinds. The Argentine Customs (which depend on the Ministry of Finance and the Economy) also have a goods classification system which defines whether they are to be inspected or not when they enter Argentina: - green procedure: Customs clearance takes place without physical inspection. - orange procedure: only the documentation is inspected. - red procedure: goods and documents are inspected (e.g. textiles). A form declaring quantities and composition must also be provided for the Ministry of Industry 10 days before clearing Customs.
All documents presented to Argentinean authorities have to be in Spanish or be accompanied with a translation from a certified translator.
As a member of Mercosur, Argentina applies the common external tariff (CET) which between around 0 and 20% for most products. Some items in the automobile industry reach up to 35%. Information technology and Capital Goods are temporarily exempt from the CET.
In addition to import tariffs, there some other fees as follows: -21 or 10.5% VAT on CIF. If the goods are for resale the rate is 10 or 5.5% VAT on CIF. -0.5% statistics fee on CIF. There are some exceptions. -3% of anticipated profit tax for retail goods. -1.5% gross income tax
Some products such as tobacco, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages among others, fall under the domestic tax regime.
In general, the procedures to import goods to Argentina have changed several times in recent years. That is why it is advisable to contact in a local customs broker to start any import process. For more information check the US commercial Service - Argentina.
For the import, export and re-export of commercial samples the ATA (Temporary Admission) carnet can be used. It must be written on the product that it is a free sample and that it may not be sold.
The Temporary Admission Regime (TAR) allows samples and advertising materials without commercial value to enter the country duty and tax free if they are useless for sale. Packaging, containers, pallets and goods for transformation with the objective to be exported are also under this regime.
Argentinian consumption preferences are closer to European standards than those of other Latin American countries. Argentine consumers pay attention to home delivery and after-sales service. They prefer to repair their old goods rather than buy new ones. The household appliances spare parts trade is therefore a flourishing sector. The Argentines favor national products as imported goods are often three times more expensive. Following the crisis in 2001-2002, the Argentines have reoriented their purchases towards sub-brands and special offers in order to save money. However, in certain geographical areas, more well-off consumers tend to accept higher prices. Likewise, big brand names are chosen for their guarantee of safety, the know-how with which their products are made, etc. Young people become attached to the brand image of the product, while still paying attention to its price. The arrival of Chinese and Brazilian products on the market has revived consumption of household appliances.
Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
The Argentine consumer is rational and conservative. Since the economic crisis, he has become more wary, more selective and more reticent with regard to new products. In general, the Argentines are not very loyal to brands.
Usuarios, The Bureau for competition, deregulation and the consumer Adecua, Association for protection of consumers and users from Argentina
The modernization and restructuring of distribution networks, which started at the beginning of the 80's, has accelerated with the setting up of the stabilization plan. The growing place taken up by mass distribution has led to a big reduction in retail trade. The development of mass distribution has led suppliers to adapt to the demands, especially regarding tariffs, which are imposed on them. On the other hand, mass distribution is behind in the distribution of services, sport, furniture or mail order, which are little or not at all developed. Sales in Argentine supermarkets rose by 22.8% in 2007/2008 period. Invoicing which takes into account the effects of inflation was nearly 1.2 billion dollars. Shelf prices increased by 10.9% over this period.
90% of Argentinian population is concentrated in cities. Distributors are a good solution to penetrate into the market.
Argentine mass distribution is dominated by the French company Carrefour which introduced this new type of store to the country at the beginning of the 80's. Among the 7 leaders are 2 local chains, Coto and La Anonima, followed by the Dutch group Ahold. New intermediaries have appeared to negotiate with mass distribution, overshadowing the traditional wholesalers. At the same time, a new type of distributor-wholesaler has developed: traders who, searching the whole world for products with the lowest price, allow the big distributors to set up promotional operations. Carrefour and Norte together represent 30% of market share with 200 stores, Jumbo and Disco 23% with 233 stores and Coto 16% with 102 stores.
Organizing Goods Transport
Main Useful Means of Transport
Goods transport (national and regional) in Argentina is dominated by road transport. The road network covers practically all the country. However, 60% of the network is in poor condition. It carried out 74.8% of transport in 1995 compared with 86% in 1990.
International goods transport outside Mercosur is dominated by sea transport. The port of Buenos Aires concentrates 60% of port traffic. The port of La Plata is also very important. A total of 313 million tons of goods are transported per year. 25 million tons transit by rail and 0.15 million tons by air.
The Uruguay and Parana rivers are important ways to connect Buenos Aires with economic areas inside the country, in Brazil and in Paraguay.