Doing business

Current business situation

After Mauricio Macri – businessman and pro-market reformer – became President of Argentina, he ushered in many changes and opportunities for business in different sectors. Macri, in his first year of government, removed taxes on exports and currency controls on the dollar, resolved the country’s foreign debt disputes to open up access to international credit, and solicited greater direct foreign investment.

Argentina is a leading producer of foodstuffs: the third worldwide producer of soybeans, soymeal, soybean oil and corn, the fourth largest producer of sunflower (seed, meal and oil) and sorghum, the seventh largest producer of barley, and the twelfth producer of wheat.

Argentina boasts the world’s fourth-biggest shale oil reserves, and the second-biggest shale gas reserves. Other valuable natural resources include gold, copper, lead, zinc, natural borates, bentonite, clays, and construction stone. The leading industrial sectors in terms of gross value of production are: food processing, beverages, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles and auto parts, coke fuel, oil refining, and nuclear fuel manufacturing.

With respect to services, sectors with the largest share in gross value added include wholesale, retail, and repairs; followed by transport and communications. The service sector leads the labor market as the largest job creator.

Its population is highly literate and well-educated. There are strong cohorts of professionals in medicine, business, law, accounting, engineering, architecture, etc. The country is digitally capable, with high internet and smart-phone penetration, and income distribution is more equal than in most Latin American countries. A broad and deep middle class means more consumer buying power. Infrastructure requires major updating and renewal, providing significant opportunity for exporters of equipment and services for roads, ports, railroads, telecommunications, water and sanitation and electric power, among others.

Business culture

It is common that being part of a network involves reciprocity and you will be expected to use your own contacts and relationships to help others when called upon for assistance.

Although Argentine business people are time-conscious and are convinced that time is money, a sense of urgency may be viewed with mistrust or as rudeness.

It is not uncommon for meetings to be held in an informal environment, such as a bar or restaurant.

Many Argentines will not try new things until they have been thoroughly tested and accepted.

Business commitments and promises made in a social context need to be verified in a work environment.

Argentines do not generally bargain.

Argentines are interested in family, so be prepared to talk about your personal life.

Titles can be generally disregarded without offence in conversation, however, when formally addressing letters to Argentines, all names should be written in full, with titles included.

The titles Dr (male) and Dra. (female) indicate a university graduate in medicine, law or economics, and the title Ing. indicates an engineering university graduate.

Exchanging gifts and favours is common business practice in Argentina and is a good way to get things done, however, it is recommended not to bring a business gift until a friendly relationship has been established. Never go empty-handed to anyone's home.

Setting up in Argentina

There are two options to operate a business in Argentina.

  1. Through a representative. Local distributors, agents or representatives can facilitate business. However, finding the appropiate person or company to represent your company requires market insights and knowledge.
  2. By setting up a local corporate entity (greenfield investments or through partnerships). Partnerships and agreements such as joint ventures partnerships offer advantages for Australians wishing to operate in Argentina.

The most commonly used investment vehicles by non-resident individuals and foreign companies are: Corporation (Sociedad Anónima), Limited Liability Company (Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada) and Branch (sucursal).

Banking and finance

The Central Bank is responsible for the regulation, inspection and supervision of financial institutions. It has power to establish the scope of permitted and prohibited activities, and to place limits on credit, indebtedness, minimum capital, reserves, net worth requirements, and concentration of risks.

A wide variety of international banks have presence in Argentina.

Links and resources

Government, business and trade

Argentina’s Industrial Union (Spanish)
Argentine Accreditation Agency (Spanish)
Argentine Central Bank (Banco Central de la República Argentina – BCRA) (Spanish)
Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship (English)
Argentine Ministry of Production (Spanish)
Argentine Ministry of Treasury and Public Finances (English)
Argentine Standardization Institute (Instituto Argentino de Normalización - IRAM) (Spanish)
Chamber of Importers (Spanish)
Chamber of Trade and Services (Spanish)
Federal Administration of Public Revenue (AFIP)(Spanish)
Foreign Trade National Commission (Comisión Nacional de Comercio Exterior - CNCE) (Spanish)
President, Ministries, Legislative and Judicial Branches (Spanish)
MERCOSUR Standards Association (Asociación MERCOSUR de Normalización - AMN)
Natioanl Direction for Consumer Defense (Spanish)
National Administration of Drugs, Foods, and Medical Devices (ANMAT – Administración Nacional de Medicamentos, Alimentos y Tecnología Médica) (English)
National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos - INDEC)

News and media

Buenos Aires Herald. Weekly online newspaper in English
Diario Ambito Financiero
Diario Clarin
Diario Cronista Comercial
Diario La Nacion

Intellectual property protection

Trademarks and tradename

Any distinctive sign may be registered as a trademark. Any person may apply for a trademark registration and the trademark and tradename registration term is ten years and indefinitely renewable.

Domain names

There is no specific legislation on domain names. However, there are administrative resolutions that regulate domain name registration procedures in Argentina.

Copyright

The Copyright Act protects scientific, literary and artistic works. Copyright protection is granted to the expression of ideas, procedures, operational methods and concepts, but not to the ideas, procedures or methods themselves. Foreign works are protected under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. It is advisable, however, to register copyright works with the National Copyright Direction (Dirección Nacional de Derechos de Autor) to facilitate enforcement and, in certain cases, to obtain tax benefits.

Patents of invention

The ‘first to file’ system operates in Argentina. There are three basic requirements for patentability: novelty, inventive activity and industrial application. The patent registration term is twenty years from filing (not renewable) and all applications are published to allow potential third-party objection. Substantive examination must be performed within 180 days from payment of the applicable examination fee and Argentina is not a party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty.

Utility models

Protect smaller inventions that consist of the novel useful shape of an useful instrument, including tools, devices, working utensils and generally any practical objects. Qualifying inventions must be novel, have inventive activity, and industrial application.

Industrial models and designs

Protect the aesthetic shape or appearance of industrial products, regardless of their functionality or distinctive capacity. Industrial models are three-dimensional products, while industrial designs are drawings. Models and designs can be applied to all type of industrial products. The requirements for a valid industrial model or design are esthetic creation, novelty, industrial character, originality and lawfulness.

Transfer of technology

The Transfer of Technology Act governs all contracts on transfer, assignment or licensing of intellectual property rights from non-residents to Argentine residents, effective in Argentina and for valuable consideration. Certain tax benefits (such as a reduction on the income tax rate) may be obtained on payments made from Argentina if the agreement is filed.

Dispute resolution

Argentina is a party to the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of other States (ICSID Convention) and has entered into numerous bilateral treaties for the promotion and protection of investments (BITs). The Australia / Argentina BIT, in force since 1997, provides actionable standards of conduct to the Argentine government in favor of Australian investors. The specific protections include: fair and equitable treatment, free repatriation of investments, compensation for expropriations and non-discrimination.

Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.