Argentina: Argentina: Exchange control and foreign trade news
On December 17 2015 the Argentine Central Bank (BCRA) issued Communication A 5850 by which important amendments where introduced to the Exchange Currency Market (MULC) regulations related to the payment of imports of goods and services as well as to the requirements for the formation of foreign assets by Argentine residents, and to the regulations related to financial debts with non-residents.
The Executive Branch also issued Decree No. 133/2015 by which export duties for most agricultural and industrial products have been repealed.
In addition, on December 18 2015, the Ministry of Economy and Public Finance issued Resolution No 3/2015 which introduces a series of amendments to the regulations on the inflows of funds under financial debts of the private sector and for inflows of funds from non-residents mainly regarding the timeframe for complying with the permanence requirement and the repealing of the 30% mandatory reserve (the so-called 'Encaje').
With these measures, the new government intends to normalise the tight exchange control environment that it has been faced with over the past five years.
Payment of imports of goods and services
All transactions involving goods imports (GI) whose shipment is dated as from December 17 2015 will be completed with no limits as regards their amount.
As to GI for past transactions due or to be due at December 16 2015, access to the MULC will be granted to let them be paid in accordance with existing regulations as long as they refer to:
debts from the public sector and/or from companies controlled by the public sector;
transactions protected or covered under letters of credit or drafts supported, issued or granted by local financial institutions until December 16 2015; and/or
transactions owed to international or official credit agencies and/or supported by them.
For the rest of GIs, the following schedule has been set for accessing MULC:
From December 17 2015 to December 31 2015, the amount paid by each importer may not exceed the equivalent of $2 million;
From January 1 2016 to May 31 2016, the amount paid may not exceed the equivalent of $4.5 million per calendar month;
As from June 2016, there will be no limitations for those payments.
In addition, the request for BCRA's prior approval will no longer be necessary to make payments under GI transactions recorded in customs before July 1 2010.
In relation to the requirements applicable to early payments of GI, provided that they do not relate to capital goods, the customs entry registration must be proven within a term of 180 running days (the previous term was 120 days) counted as from the date of access to MULC.
When it comes to the payment of services imports (SI), from December 17 2015 they may be made with no limits to their amounts and in accordance with current regulations. Finally, for SI provided and/or accrued until December 16 2015, the following payment schedule is set:
From February 2016, the monthly amount paid per customer may not exceed the equivalent of $2 million;
From March to May 2016, that amount may not exceed the equivalent of $4 million per calendar month; and
As from June 2016, there will be no limitations to make those payments.
Requirements for the formation of foreign assets by residents
Resident individuals and corporations (with certain specific exceptions) and local governments may access the MULC to purchase foreign currency without the prior approval of the BCRA for an amount not exceeding $2 million in the calendar month under the following items: a) real estate investments abroad; b) loans granted to non-residents; c) direct investment contributions abroad by residents; d) investments in foreign portfolios of legal entities; e) purchase to hold foreign currency in Argentina; and f) purchase of traveler checks. To carry out these transactions, a series of specific conditions and requirements must be met. The above monthly cap would be decreased in the amount of services imports paid.
Moreover, funds deposited by non-residents in Argentine bank accounts (USD denominated) in general can freely be transferred abroad as long as the applicable minimum term of permanence within the country has been observed.
Financial debts with non-residents
Communication A 5850 sets out that all financial debts incurred abroad by the financial sector, the non-financial private sector and the local governments shall no longer be subject to the obligation to bring into Argentina and settle the related funds through the MULC.
Nevertheless, if the resident seeks repayment of principal or interest through the MULC, the funds lent by the non-resident entity shall comply with the MULC settlement requirement.
In addition, through Resolution 3/2015, the minimum timeframe for keeping the funds in Argentina has been reduced from 365 to 120 calendar days as from the settlement date through the MULC applicable to new indebtedness or renewals as from December 17 2015 and the requirement to place a non-interest bearing deposit equivalent to 30% of the inflow of funds (the so-called Encaje) is repealed.
Export duties relief
The Decree 133/2015 sets a zero rate (o%) for most agricultural and industrial products. Certain exceptions apply.
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