Warning from sector’s chamber comes after lowest trade surplus since 2001
A decrease in the trade surplus this year would make it difficult for the federal government to end the current restrictions on imports, which force companies to file an affidavit in order to obtain authorization, the Argentine Importers Chamber (CIRA) said yesterday, only days after the country’s 2014 trade data was revealed to be the worst since 2001.
“The perspective of a low trade surplus this year would impose strong constraints on a wider flexibilization on the current import scheme,” Diego Pérez Santisteban, the head of the chamber, said.
The country’s trade surplus narrowed 17 percent in 2014 to US$6.6 billion, the lowest figure since 2001 when a US$6.2 billion surplus was registered, INDEC statistics bureau reported. Imports dropped 11 percent and totalled US$65.2 billion, while exports declined 17 percent to total US$71.9 billion.
The annual results came after INDEC revealed that December was a bad month for trade. A US$74 billion trade surplus was registered in the last month of 2014, 31 percent lower than the same month last year. Exports narrowed 13 percent (US$4.5 billion), a drop which was also seen on imports (US$4.4 billion).
“Looking after the Central Bank’s foreign currency reserves became the most important objective of the federal government’s economic policy and in that context everything that means spending dollars is being analyzed carefully,” Santiesteban said. “In a certain way, the government decided with its economic policy to give up on growth in order to decrease the demand of dollars and maintain a calm situation in the market.”
CIRA also highlighted Central Bank foreign currency reserves have plunged from the US$48 billion available in 2010 to the current US$31.276 billion.
The main sector responsible for the drop in imports last year was the vehicle sector as fewer sales in the country led to a 49 percent decline in car imports, compared to 2013. At the same time, capital goods accessories dropped 22 percent, fuel and lubricants four percent, intermediate goods 11 percent and consumption goods 10 percent.
December saw a whopping 61 percent drop in car imports, followed by a 28 percent drop in capital goods accessories and four percent on intermediate goods.
Santiesteban said the lack of foreign investment, the drop in exports because of lower demand of Brazil, Argentina’s main commercial partner, and lower prices of grains have led to a lower number of dollars being brought in the country, funds used to finance Argentina’s imports.
Date: January 27, 2015