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Trade Profile

In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards


Foreign Trade in Figures

Argentina has been a relatively closed market to international trade, which accounts for about 26% of its GDP (World Bank, 2016). Nevertheless, since the end of 2015, the new government has been trying to reduce protectionism. As part of the MERCOSUR, Brazil is Argentina’s main trade partner for both exports and imports, before the United States, China and the European Union. However, the economic recession and political crisis in Brazil over the past years have affected Argentina’s exports towards its neighbor. Argentina exports more than it imports, mostly raw materials. Its trade balance is therefore structurally dependent on the evolution of commodity prices and risks of crop failures (for the agricultural sector).  Despite an initial optimistic outlook, Argentina’s trade balance has fallen continuously throughout 2017 and reached an all-time low in November. Forecasts for 2018 anticipate stabilization of the country’s trade deficit.

Since December 2015 and the election of Mauricio Macri, the government has passed a series of reforms aiming at enhancing foreign trade. Export taxes on agricultural products - including beef, wheat and corn - have been scrapped and those on soybeans have been reduced. Mauricio Macri hopes that tax reductions and other incentives for trade will improve the country's balance in the next couple of years.

Argentina is seeking to attract investment and deepen trade relations with the United States, China and the EU. Mauricio Macri aspires to reinvigorate trade relations with the EU by pushing for a free trade deal between Mercosur and the EU. However, the Mercosur agenda is highly dependent on Brazil’s will.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20122013201420152016
Imports of Goods (million USD) 67,97474,44265,22959,78755,609
Exports of Goods (million USD) 79,98275,96368,33556,75257,737
Imports of Services (million USD) 17,56817,89916,35717,49019,679
Exports of Services (million USD) 14,81314,36913,48813,65212,697
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -4.73.9-
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -4.1-3.5-7.0-0.63.7
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 14.314.714.011.813.5
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 16.214.614.411.012.8
Trade Balance (million USD) 15,0414,6356,015-3634,540
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 10,944-6941,405-6,148-3,603
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 30.529.328.422.926.3

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) - 2017; World Bank - 2017


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
Brazil 15.9%
United States 7.7%
China 7.4%
Chile 4.5%
Vietnam 3.9%
India 3.6%
Spain 2.6%
Algeria 2.5%
Netherlands 2.4%
Canada 2.3%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
Brazil 26.7%
China 18.4%
United States 11.4%
Germany 4.8%
Mexico 3.1%
Italy 2.5%
Spain 2.2%
France 2.0%
Thailand 1.9%
Bolivia 1.9%

Source: Comtrade, 2017


Main Products

58.4 bn USD of products exported in 2017
Oil-cake and other solid residues, whether or not ground or in the form of pellets, resulting from the extraction of soya-bean oil 15.6%
Maize or corn 6.7%
Soya-bean oil and its fractions, whether or not refined (excl. chemically modified) 6.4%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 5.6%
Soya beans, whether or not broken 4.7%
Wheat and meslin 4.0%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 3.9%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 2.6%
Prepared binders for foundry moulds or cores; chemical products and preparations for the chemical or allied industries, incl. mixtures of natural products, n.e.s. 2.2%
Crustaceans, fit for human consumption, whether in shell or not, live, fresh, chilled, frozen, dried, salted or in brine, incl. crustaceans in shell cooked beforehand by steaming or by boiling in water; flours, meals and pellets of crustaceans, fit for human consumption 2.1%
66.9 bn USD of products imported in 2017
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 9.4%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 4.2%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 3.4%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 3.3%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 3.1%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 3.0%
Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 2.0%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 1.9%
Parts suitable for use solely or principally with electric motors and generators, electric generating sets and rotary converters, n.e.s. 1.9%
Powered aircraft e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes; spacecraft, incl. satellites, and suborbital and spacecraft launch vehicles 1.6%

Source: Comtrade, 2017


Main Services

24.8 bn USD of services exported in 2014
Other business services
Cultural and recreational services
Government services
Royalties and license fees
Insurance services
Construction services
31.5 bn USD of services imported in 2014
Other business services
Royalties and license fees
Cultural and recreational services
Government services
Insurance services
Construction services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data


Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
Argentine Peso (ARS)
Exchange Rate Regime
The Convertibility Act of 1 April 1991 and the Deregulation Decree of November 1991 have abolished exchange control. Therefore, there is free foreign currency convertibility and a right to transfer profits and capital at any time and with no declaration formalities. Argentina has a floating exchange system, but the government ensures it keeps a regular exchange rate with the dollar.
Level of Currency Instability
In 2001, Argentina suffered drastic devaluation. The Argentine peso which up to then was at parity with the dollar dropped to about one third of its value. For a few years now, its value has remained stable in relation to the dollar thanks to the action of the central bank. It is still a high risk currency.
Monetary Indicators 20132014201520162017
Argentine Peso (ARS) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 5.468.089.2314.7616.56

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2007
Main International Economic Cooperation
Argentina is one of the founding members of Mercosur and is a member of the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI). The country signed a trade agreement with 21 other countries in the São Paulo Round of the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP).
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Look Up the Other Member Countries And Read the Web Pages of the World Customs Organization Devoted to the ATA Carnet.
Party of the TIR Convention

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
The UNCTAD Website Allows You to Read the TIR Convention, See the List of Member Countries And to Find Further Information.
Accompanying Documents For Imports
Goods shipped to Argentina must be accompanied by the following documents:
- the Single Administrative Document (SAD)
- the commercial invoice (in 5 copies, preferably in Spanish);
- a phytosanitary certificate (necessary for fruit, vegetables, seeds and other plants);
- a health certificate (necessary for meat);
- a certificate of origin (necessary for certain products like shoes, clothing items or clothes);
- a certificate of analysis (necessary for alcoholic drinks and pharmaceutical products);
- a certificate of freesale for cosmetics;
- the transport documents and packing list.
Free Zones
Free Zone of Tucuman
Free Zone of Mendoza
Free Zone of Cordoba
Free Zone of America
Free Zone of Bahia Blanca
Free Zone of Comodoro Rivadavia
Free Zone of Rio Negro
Free Zone of Santa Fe
Free Zone of General Pico
Free Zone of San Luis
For Further Information
Aduana Argentina Centre for International Trade Information
Dirección General de Aduanas (DGA) Director General for Customs
Ministry of Trade and International Economic Relations
Non Tariff Barriers
Despite its membership in Mercosur, protectionism still remains in effect. Certain products, such as sugar, textiles, steel, cars and car parts, are protected through Customs restrictions, quotas and/or high Customs duties.

Companies that want to exchange local currency into foreign currency must ask the 'Administration Federal de Ingreso Público', AFIP (Federal Public Revenue Administration) for authorisation.

In order to be imported, some products, including pharmaceuticals, insecticides, medical devices, need prior approval from the Government. Products such as agricultural goods, livestock and plants require sanitation certificates issued by a competent authority in the country of origin.

Sectors or Products For Which Commercial Disagreements Have Been Registered With the WTO
Tiles, ceramics, poultry, cotton.
Assessment of Commercial Policy
Argentina and the WTO, World Trade Organisation
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the United States
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the EU
Sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, inventoried by the EU

Learn more about How to Export to Argentina on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.



National Standards Organisations
Argentine Institute of Standards and Certification (IRAM)
Argentine Electrotechnical Association (AEA)
Integration in the International Standards Network
At the regional level, Argentina is member of:
- The Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT)
- The Mercosur Standardisation Association (AMN)

At the international level, Argentina is member of:
- The International Standards Organisation (ISO)
- The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
- The International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

Obligation to Use Standards
Compliance with standards is mandatory for products such as machines, tools, electrical appliances, sports equipment, toys, etc. Goods which have complex technology or are potentially dangerous must undergo rigorous testing and approval procedures before they can be marketed in Argentina.
Classification of Standards
Product marking standards: Argentine Institute of Standards and Certification (IRAM)
Assessment of the System of Standardization
Argentine people are receptive to standards being observed; the IRAM standard or the ISO 9000 and HACCP certifications are well known to consumers and firms and they are appreciated for their guarantee of the quality and safety of products and services.

The IRAM certification is called “Sello IRAM” which is well recognised in the country. As most standards schemes, the IRAM is voluntary.

Products in conformity with the regulations, must display the official safety mark “S” on its packaging.

Online Consultation of Standards
Consult the website of IRAM, the only organisation accredited for product certification.
Certification Organisations
Argentine Institute of Standards and Certification (IRAM)
Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT)
Mercosur Standardisation Association (AMN)
The National Institute of Industrial Technology (INTI)
International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO)


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Last Updates: May 2018