Argentina eases rules for imports, raises some tariffs

25 January 2013 20:34  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The Argentine government has eased control on imports by repealing some requirements, but import tariffs have been increased for non-Mercosur trading partners, local sources said on Friday.

New legislation published repeals the so-called “no-automatic-licences” (LNA Spanish acronym) for imports.

This means that traders will no longer be required to obtain an LNA to import most products, but the requirement will remain in effect for a few items.

Polypropylene (PP) was said to be one of the commodities affected by the LNA requirement, a local producer said, cautioning that there are many details of this legislation that need to be clarified.

The restrictions, in force since early 2012, were intended to slow down the outflow of hard currency.

Through the restriction of imports, the government generated a commercial trade surplus for the nation despite a decline in exports, local media contends.  

Some of the products affected by the LNA rules were automobiles and auto parts, motorcycles, tyres, metallurgic products, textiles, shoes, toys, balls, paper and home appliances, among others.

It is not clear if the repealed legislation will be replaced with a new one.

The measure will benefit products from Mercosur countries. Previously this week, the government increased to the maximum (35%) import tariffs of a group of 100 products from non-Mercosur countries – a measure previously agreed with Brazil.

Despite the elimination of these trade barriers, importers still need to file a “sworn statement of anticipated imports” or DJAI as Argentines know it, with the Commerce Secretary, the producer said.

“Basically, there was a double barrier to PP imports, and one of those has been removed, but it remains to be seen how the other barrier (DJAI’s) is implemented,” the producer added.

The easing of import regulations comes at a time when the largest producer in the country – the 180,000 tonne/year Petroquen PP plant – is down for non-programmed maintenance.

Local sources do not believe that PP shortages are the cause of the new regulations, but the new rules could ease the shortages by facilitating imports.

The big winner in this situation could be Brazil’s Braskem, the only Mercosur member with exportable volumes of PP.

By: George Martin
+1 713 525 2653

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