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.
Argentina has a determined plan to change its energy matrix. A target has been set to reach 10Gw of renewable installed capacity by 2025.
Agriculture, construction, transport and other service sectors are major drivers of the economy although the country is witnessing the emergence of a vibrant mobile, software and gaming services sector. 4 of LATAM’s 6 “unicorns” emerged in Argentina: Mercado Libre, Despegar, OLX and Globant. Biotechnology and creative industries are also promising segments.
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.
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
Foreign companies that intend to become shareholders of an Argentine subsidiary or to operate in Argentina through a branch must first become registered as foreign shareholders or branches, with the Public Registry of Commerce (Inspección General de Justicia, IGJ, in Buenos Aires City).
- In all cases, foreign companies operating in Argentina must name individuals who will be legally responsible for them, and separate accounting records must be kept for companies’ operations in Argentina.
- The main types of investment vehicles used by non-resident individuals and foreign companies are a branch; a corporation (Sociedad Anónima); and a limited liability company (Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada). A new simplified company was introduced (Sociedad por Acciones Simplificada, “SAS”) as an alternative to existing legal entities. The SAS aims to support increasing entrepreneurial activity in the country and rising interest from international businesses. This type of company presents a simple and flexible scheme that allows investors to set up a new company in less than 24 hours.
Restrictions on foreign investment
- No restrictions on any industrial sectors.
- No restrictions on the percentage of foreign ownership in a local entity.
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 Economy (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)
News and media
Diario Ambito Financiero
Diario Cronista Comercial
Diario La Nacion
Intellectual property protection
Intellectual property laws protect two types of property: creations (artistic or technological; including literary and artistic works, inventions, utility models, industrial designs, software and technical know-how) and distinctive signs (including trademarks, trade names, domain names and geographic indications of origin). The National Intellectual Property Institute (Instituto Nacional de la Propiedad Intelectual) (INPI) is the local authority on intellectual property rights.
Trademarks and tradenames
- any distinctive sign may be registered as a trademark;
- attributive system (i.e., the right is effective upon registration, although priority may be claimed and in certain cases courts have recognized prior user’s rights);
- any person may apply for a trademark registration;
- the trademark and tradename registration term is ten years, indefinitely renewable;
- the trademark must have been used for renewal purposes and to prevent a cancellation request;
- oppositions not dismissed through amicable negotiations must be resolved in court;
- the meaning of “use” (to qualify for renewal or prevent lapsing) is broad;
- court decisions on trademark matters have always been inspired by equitable and fair trade principles, which are the underlying principles of the domestic trademark legislation; and
- Argentina is not a party to the Madrid Protocol.
There is no specific legislation on domain names. However, there are administrative resolutions that regulate domain name registration procedures in Argentina. The domain names “.ar” registration system is managed by NIC Argentina, which assigns domain names on a “first come, first served” basis.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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