Driven by a lack of dollars, the government added a new control on imports of services. This is a permit that companies must apply to the Secretary of Commerce in order to pay for overseas freight, which it can take up to 60 days. The measure has already given rise to complaints in the House maritime and generates uncertainty due to its possible impact on loading ports.
The Central Bank made it official last Thursday establishing in communication A 7771 that “entities must request a declaration made through the System of Imports of the Republic of Argentina and Payments for Services Abroad (SIRASE) in “APPROVED” status to give access to the exchange market for making payments for services for the aforementioned concept”.
The SIRASE is a permit that was born in October with the tightening of the restrictions of the new import system (SIRA). In the case of goods, the cross-checks resulted in obtaining SIRA authorizations for the deferred payment of 60, 90 and 180 days depending on the size of the importer, with some exceptions (health, pharmaceutical, energy and capital goods).
Until now companies were exempt from obtaining a permit to pay freight, but with the changes they expect greater discretion. “As entrepreneurs we have to import and we need SIRA, also the shipping company needs authorized SIRASE to send remittances abroad, before they were sent within 48 hours, now it’s complicated,” said an importer.
Commerce sources explained that the provision “was born following a legislative decreecomplaints to customs for overbilling of goods”. AFIP and Customs had already put the magnifying glass on Mediterranean Shipping Company for turning over 87% more currency in 2022 than in the previous year. And weeks ago they alerted importers, ports and shipping companies of the apparent lack of controls.
The restrictions are added to those placed at the end of April a defer payment of US$2,000 million in service imports. In the midst of the currency rush, the BCRA determined that freight payments to related companies (for example, a transfer of remittances from a marine or aviation company to its parent company) will occur 90 days after the service is provided.
In response, the Navigation Center – which brings together the main shipping companies – sent a letter to the Ministry of the Economy, Transport, the Central Bank and Customs in which it warns that the measures they do nothing but limit payments of goods abroad, given the impossibility of absorbing the exchange rate risk and inflation for 90 days.
And they asked for its revision “in order to guarantee the normal flow of Argentine foreign trade, avoiding the risk of market shortages, the increase in costs and the loss of competitiveness of Argentine foreign trade”. However, “the big hit is not the freight company, but the importer and exporter,” said one businessman.
The government tightened stockpiles in the face of difficulties accumulating reserves. Economy Minister Sergio Massa recognized on Monday the need to “reduce the demand for dollars” with savings in energy purchases, import programs with industry and the use of yuan “to compensate for this lack of dollars with yuan or planning”.
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.