The government of Argentina is planning a series of new measures designed to discourage imports to address a growing trade deficit and protect its currency reserves.
A range of options are said to be under consideration in order to restrict the amount of goods coming into the country, after new figures revealed the South American nation's trade deficit widened to $437 million in July.
In the year to date, exports from Argentina increased by 22.4 percent compared to 2021. However, over the same period, imports rose by 44.6 per cent.
One consequence of this, according to Bloomberg, is that the country's net reserves - its assets on hand, minus the money it owes - have fallen to less than $2 billion.
In order to address the situation, three key measures are being planned. Firstly, the government has proposed to reduce the time frame in which importers are exempted from paying import duties on goods that are later reexported.
The measure will cut the time firms have to process and export goods from 360 days to 120 days. This is expected to affect products worth up to $3 billion so far in 2022, and may have a particular impact on soybeans, which are often imported to the country before being shipped out again as oil. Some $1.6 billion worth of these items have been imported to Argentina so far this year.
Other initiatives include extending the need for companies to gain prior approval for imports to services as well as goods.
Finally, the government is said to be considering reclassifying 34 categories of imported goods as 'non-automatic licences', which must be approved by the commerce secretary before imports are permitted.
This measure would include items such as slot machines, yachts, aircraft and cryptocurrency mining machines, affecting shipments worth around $1.2 billion so far in 2022 - almost five percent of Argentina's total imports.
A source close to the government told Reuters: "Smoother coordination is required between (Argentina's tax collection entity) AFIP, Customs and Commerce, with measures aimed at ordering imports, taking care of the Argentine central bank's dollars and avoiding abuses."