In these times when every dollar in reserves is guarded with extreme zeal, importers have to go through several windows, desks or offices to obtain the necessary permits to obtain the dollars to pay for an operation. Different dependencies of the AFIP, the Ministry of Production and the Central Bank intervene. And things are not easy. In fact, the president of the Chamber of Importers of the Argentine Republic (CIRA), Rubén García assured Clarín yesterday that they have accumulated, without response, at least 1,000 requests for import licenses.
According to García, there are orders for purchases that could not yet be made but also for purchases already made, paid and that they are in Customs but they are released. In this particular case, the paradox is that the Central has already delivered the foreign exchange to buy the merchandise, but since it is not released by Customs, the Treasury cannot collect the corresponding taxes.
CIRA has 1,300 partners and the companies grouped there explain about 20% of annual imports carried out by Argentina.
“We are marching to a overwhelming situation, similar to the one we experienced in 2014 and 2015 ”says García in dialogue with Clarion.
-Do these obstacles to imports lead to what was discussed these days, of companies that directly do not want to sell their products, because they do not know when they will be able to replace it, much less at what dollar price?
– Of course. There are already missing covers for cars, for tractors, spare parts, auto parts. There are factories that cannot deliver agricultural machinery, such as tractors, because the wheels are not entering them. Nor are the parts and spare parts to assemble the bicycles coming in here. Did you see what it costs to find a bicycle today? And was the amount of products that are already lacking in supermarkets fixed?
– Where are the files locked?
The first obstacles start with the AFIP and the analysis called Financial Economic Capacity (CEF). From the financial and patrimonial numbers of each company, it is determined what quota can import. It is an algorithm that nobody knows about. But in addition, specific rules of the World Trade Organization are being violated, which establishes that in countries where trade is administered, such as Argentina, the delays in approving an import cannot exceed 60 days. If no objection is found in two months, the merchandise must be released.
– Are all the sectors in which your associates work affected?
To a greater or lesser extent, all. The problems were aggravated by the Central Bank circular 7030, which began to put financial obstacles to importers. And they were accentuated this week with the 7138, which requires banks that, before releasing a purchase order for foreign currency, they need to have a non-automatic license in the Exit state, that is, approved
– How is it that 1,000 requests for import licenses were accumulated?
Because no one attends us, in any office in any of the areas involved in the administrative process. But that does not prevent an official from calling us and informing us of the annual import quota, based on what we imported last year. If in 2019 we imported for 100, this year they gave us 80. But the worst thing is that not even that quota of 80 is met. The lack of predictability is huge.
– Are the restrictions for final products?
– This is not aimed only at finished products, but at the entire import or business arc. Final products and intermediate goods. There are cases of companies that export 80 of what they produce, but they cannot do so because they do not get the imported inputs they need to assemble their products. It is an unusual situation, because due to the brake on imports, they cannot export, so the country loses access to those much-needed foreign exchange.