Import barriers have become more complex in the second half of 2022. Given the lack of foreign currency, the government has tightened the tourniquet even more. And although it launched a new import permit system in October, through SIRA, The situation remains blocked for most of the economic activities.
“There is a huge delay in import permits. There are entire production lines waiting for an official’s signature to enter the country,” say specialists in the field.
Those who obtain the import permit know that they have to wait 180 days to access currencies at the official exchange rate. Meanwhile, they have to pay their suppliers with their own dollars or get some link in the chain to finance them.
Foreign trade specialist Marcelo Elizondo points out that the shortcomings “are more related to companies than to sectors. Those who can pay with their own dollars, or obtain financing, have no problems, while others in the same category do.. I know some who are already paying for imports in cash with settlement so as not to lose customers.”
From the Argentine Chamber of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industries (CAIRAA) indicate that “the barriers to imports of essential inputs for production that are not manufactured in the country They have generated several plant shutdowns and the maintenance of the number of jobs is at risk”.
From the CAIRAA they point out that the industrialists have had some meetings with officials on this issue, “but there is no solution.”
Eduardo Borri, president of the chamber of agricultural machinery, specifies that “the common industrialist is seeing that the criteria are lacking when it comes to approvals; there is a lot of discretion. We understand that inputs must take priority over finished ones because it is the element you need to add value locally and not leave people on the street,” says Borri.
Difficulties in accessing inputs coexist in the agricultural machinery sector with a collapse in activity due to drought and rising credit prices. “Demand dropped sharply to 70 or 80%: before we had weeks of stock and now those weeks turn into months“.
Sergio Angiulli, president of the Chamber of hardware and similar shops, states that “there are shortages, but what we are doing is buying what the market offers. At the moment, for example, it is very difficult to obtain products related to the installation of air conditioners of air, especially copper pipes.
But he cautions that this leads to “products are paid for 15% more than they would really cost if we had a stabilized economy“.
Within the restrictions there is a separate chapter for companies that have joined the Fair Prices programme. In this case, part of the deal was that they would have access to import permits and foreign currency. From one of the leading companies they recognize it “From the second half of December there began to be a certain flexibility”.
“In November we were in a critical situation. SIRA didn’t approve us and the suppliers refused to sell us within 180 days. And this happened despite our trade balance being very positive: we import much less than we export,” they explain.
However, over the past 30 days, Fair Prices signatories have started to see more fluidity in SIRAs “They only reach 30% of orders at most.”
“In no more than two or three weeks the renewal of fair prices will be negotiated and it will be necessary to see how to reach that date with imports”, they anticipate.
The animal nutrition sector it imports US$300 million of raw materials annually and exports US$4,477 million. Despite the fact that it brings in more foreign currency than necessary, they have had serious problems accessing imports.
“The approval of the SIRAs has been blocked, the transfer of foreign currency to our suppliers and the release of the goods that have arrived in the ports of our country”, indicate from the Argentine Chamber of Animal Nutrition Societies. And they warn that the impossibility of importing micro-ingredients “has started to generate out-of-stocks and shortages in the sector”.
There are also problems in the paper, cardboard and packaging industry, which affects items that need packaging, especially in the food sector, warehouses and pharmaceutical companies.
Charles Arterburn is a seasoned business journalist for News Rebeat, where he provides comprehensive coverage of the latest trends and developments in the world of finance and economics.