Economic analysis
Argentina

Argentina

Population 43,132 million
GDP per capita 14 616 US$
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2013 2014  2015 (f)  2016 (p) 2017 (p)
GDP growth (%) 2.4 -2.5 2.4 -2.0 2.0
Inflation (yearly average) (%) 34.2 38.8 28.4 41 23
Budget balance (% GDP) -3.0 -4.0 -6.6  -7.1 -7.4
Current account balance (% GDP) -1.9 -1.4 -2.5  -2.3 3.2
Public debt (% GDP) 42.2 43.6 52.1 51.8 50.7

 

(e) Estimate  (f) Forecast

STRENGTHS

  • Natural agricultural, energy and mineral resources
  • Improvement in the business environment
  • Educational level higher than the regional average
  • Qualified labour force
  • Return of the country onto the international markets

WEAKNESSES

  • Dependency on agricultural commodity prices
  • Insufficient capital investment in energy and transport
  • Inflation rate still high

RISK ASSESSMENT

Increase of growth in 2017, driven mainly by capital investment

In 2016, the contraction of activity in Argentina was mainly linked to the weakness of domestic demand. In 2017, capital investment should be the main driver of growth. Investors' interest in the country is taken off following the liberalisation of capital controls and the substantial improvement in the business environment. Inflows of foreign capital are expected in the energy and manufacturing industry sectors (automotive in particular) and real estate. State-owned businesses also benefit from more favourable access to credit on foreign markets in order to increase their production capacities. Public investment should also expand thanks to the increase in infrastructure spending planned by the government. The growth in capital investment is however likely to limit gains in terms of foreign trade, due to the expected increase in imports while the positive results in terms of employment will favour household consumption. Furthermore, this should benefit from the maintenance of the programs for assistance with consumption, the expected gradual fall in interest rates and the downturn in the inflation rate. The forecasts of a fall in inflation will however remain conditional on the results of the forthcoming salary negotiations at the start of the year.

 

A government deficit is unlikely to recover in the short term

In 2016, the government deficit deteriorated further, despite budgetary adjustment measures which consisted of eliminating subsidies on the price of electricity, gas and transport and reducing total payrolls in the public sector. In terms of receipts, the contraction in economic activity impacted the collection of taxes, VAT in particular, as did the elimination of taxes on agricultural products (with the exception of soya) intended for export. This trend is likely to continue; the 2017 budget sent to Congress is based on a primary deficit objective of 4.2% of GDP, compared with 3.3% of GDP announced previously. Infrastructure and pension expenditure is thus likely to increase by 32% and 35% respectively. In the run-up to the legislative elections in October 2017, the priority of the government now appears to be turned towards the promotion of consumption, to the detriment of the budgetary objectives announced in the early part of the mandate of President Macri. The Ahora 12 program enabling the population to purchase consumer goods, paid in 12 instalments with zero interest rates, has thus been transformed into Ahora 18, which will extend the zero-interest payment terms to 18 months, despite the artificial price inflation which it provokes. The potential receipts from the tax amnesty (estimated at 0.5% of GDP) as well as the recovery in the economy should nevertheless contribute to the growth of receipts during the year. The approval by the Senate of the law on tax reform presented by the opposition (increases in the tax-free income allowance and exemptions in particular) is nevertheless likely to contribute to a deterioration in the government deficit in Argentina.

 

The current account balance, which is likely to deteriorate as a result of the expected increase in imports

In terms of foreign trade, the current account deficit is likely to deteriorate as a result of the dynamism in imports (capital equipment in particular) driven by the increase in capital investment. Furthermore, the company remains dependent on energy imports as result of the lack of investment in this sector, despite the abundance of natural resources (oil and gas). Agricultural exports (soya, maize and corn), which represent almost 60% of the total export sales should nevertheless remain at this level. Since 2016, the latter have benefited from the elimination of taxes and export quotas. Exports of goods and services should benefit from the recovery in demand from Brazil, which nevertheless is likely to remain modest. The services balance of trade is likely to improve, thanks to the expected increase in tourist numbers. The return of investors' confidence in the country should furthermore contribute to the balance of revenue surplus, thanks to inflows of capital which are likely to largely compensate repatriations of dividends.

 

A sharp improvement in the business environment

Elected in November 2015, the government of President Mauricio Macri is making every effort to reduce the economic distortions and to put the economy on the path to sustainable growth. However, in view of the extent of the poor economic management by the previous government, the process of adjustment involving austerity measures (reductions of subsidies in particular) combined with the high inflation rate caused by the devaluation of the peso have contributed to the fall in the popularity of the President. In order to give the greatest possible chance to the right-wing coalition, Frente Cambiemos, to obtain additional seats in the Congress during the legislative elections in October 2017, the government is concentrating more effort on the revival of private consumption.

The business environment has improved sharply. The elimination of barriers to importing and exporting, the resolution of the conflict with the vulture funds, the return of dialogue with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the gradual settlements of trade disputes decided on in the past, are reinforcing the Argentine institutional framework and henceforward contributing to attracting foreign investment.

 

Last update: January 2017

 

Payment

The most common payment instruments in local commercial transactions are cash, Bank transfer and Cheques.  In case of default, post-dated cheques -as credit payment instruments- represent an executable legal document which facilitates a fast track legal proceeding.

 

For international commercial transactions, the most common payment instrument is Bank transfer via SWIFT. Currently, there exist various foreign exchange controls and, as a general rule, all transfers of foreign currency to and from Argentina are subject to many restrictions and requirements set forth by the applicable foreign exchange authorities. Importers require an Import Prior authorization (DJAI) from the Argentine Federal Tax Authority (AFIP) to get the fund transfer approval from the Argentine Central Bank. Payments to related foreign companies are usually denied.

 

 

Debt collection

 

Amicable phase:

The amicable collection and an out-of-court settlement are always preferable to legal actions. Negotiations are focussed on the payment of the principal, plus any contractual default interest that may be added and accepted by the buyer.  However, debt collection in this phase is usually subject to write-offs and payment plans and accrued interests are rarely recovered for foreign currency debts. The main instrument to execute the agreement in this stage is a notarized acknowledgement of debt or a payment plan, which is an instrument that may be executed through an executory judicial proceeding. Such document has to be signed by creditor & debtor and must be notarized. If possible, the inclusion of guarantees (such as a promissory note) is also advisable. In this stage, costs and fees incurred are borne by each party, respectively.

 

Legal proceedings:

Argentina is a federal republic organized into 24 jurisdictions: 23 provinces and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (federal district). Each jurisdiction establishes its own court structure and organisation within its territory and its rules of procedure.

 

The Argentine judicial system is divided into two parallel judicial systems: federal courts (organised by the federal government) and provincial courts (organised by each province or federal district). The supreme judicial power of Argentina is vested in the National Supreme Court of Justice.

 

In principle, Argentine courts have jurisdiction if (i) defendant is addressed in Argentina, (ii) the place of performance of any of the obligations is located in Argentina, or (iii) Argentine courts have been chosen as the applicable forum (subject to certain restrictions). With respect to debtors addressed abroad, there is jurisdiction only to the extent that the debtor has assets in Argentina (in which case the insolvency proceedings will only involve such assets) or when its principal place of business is in Argentina.

 

Argentine regulations contemplate alternative dispute resolution methods. In some jurisdictions compulsory pre-trial mediation proceedings have been determined. The agreement reached between the parties must be signed by the mediator, the parties and any others participants. If no agreement is reached, creditor may initiate legal proceedings.

 

The Argentine Civil and Commercial Code of Procedure (modified and updated in the year 2015) classifies proceedings into two types depending on their purpose:fact-finding or ordinary (“juicio ordinario”)andexecutory or fast-track (“juicio ejecutivo”). There are other types of proceedings which apply only to particular cases.

 

Ordinary proceedingsinclude different stages. Generally, such proceedings are initiated by the parties submitting pleadings, followed by a stage in which evidence is provided and assessed. Subsequently, the court issues its decision and, eventually, parties may appeal said judgment provided certain conditions are met.

 

Executory processesare simplified and prompt proceedings that mainly consist of claimant’s request of the execution of debtor’s assets to obtain payment of a debt. Executory proceedings applies when creditor has documents known as executory titles (“títulos ejecutivos”), such as public instruments, private instruments signed by the concerned person and legally acknowledged, judicial confessions of debts, bills of exchange, promissory notes, checks or credit invoices. The evidence stage is avoided, there’s no need to prove the debt (the executor titles are enough).

 

Plaintiff’s petition must basically contain a memorandum of the facts in Spanish, the claimed amount, the documentary evidence supporting the claim and other means of evidence and include the signature of an attorney. All documents used as evidence in court must be drafted in Spanish (or translated into Spanish by an official sworn translator) prior to their being admitted by a court.

 

Costs involved in judicial proceedings usually include court tax (equal to 3 % of the amount in dispute to be paid by claimants upon commencing the proceeding), lawyers’ fees and experts’ fees. In principle, the prevailing party is entitled to recover its costs, including attorneys’ fees. However, the court may determine otherwise.

 

Insolvency proceedings:

 

(i) Reorganization proceeding (“concurso preventivo”): A reorganization proceeding may only be initiated voluntarily by an individual or entity who must submit proof of its inability to pay its debts. Debtor must file a petition to the court requesting relief under the Bankruptcy Law. The court will appoint a trustee. All creditors must file evidence of their proof of claim with the trustee (“verificación de crédito”). Debtor must submit a proposal for reorganization and must obtain their approval. If the proposal is not approved by the required majorities, debtor bankruptcy may follow.

 

(ii) Bankruptcy (“quiebra”): A bankruptcy proceeding may be initiated upon failure of a reorganization proceeding and may also be initiated either voluntarily (by debtor) or involuntarily (by debtor’s creditors request).

Unlike reorganization, debtor is removed from the administration of its assets and a trustee is appointed in order to preserve and administer debtor’s property. Hence, all payments to creditors and debtor must be made through court. As in reorganization proceedings, all claims and proceedings against debtor are automatically stayed as from the date of the order that determines debtor’s bankruptcy. All creditors must submit their proof of claims for payment. Once the assets available and the amounts owned to each creditor are determined, the trustee liquidates the assets and proceeds with the distribution to creditors. Then the bankruptcy proceeding concludes and debtor is discharged. 

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