There are few controls on incoming foreign direct investment (FDI) and transferring money to Argentina, although sending money from Argentina is much more difficult due to numerous restrictions and bureaucratic constraints.
The historical volatility of the Argentinian peso and domestic inflation levels are an important factor to consider if you plan to send money to Argentina or transfer money from Argentina. The decision in January 2014 to ease capital controls should help to improve investor confidence and facilitate capital flows in the near-term. Nonetheless, many restrictions remain in place. The 35% withholding tax remains for businesses, which must apply for foreign currency purchases.
As of April 2014, investments may not be transferred out of the country for 365 days. In addition 30% of the total investment is required to be deposited in a domestic bank, with the exception of investment in infrastructure, real estate, or for a tax payment. Cash earned from export operations must be converted to pesos in the Argentinian exchange market. Local subsidiaries may transfer funds from royalties, rent and other passive income, but transfers over a value of US$100,000 must receive prior approval from the central bank.
Argentina's history has been punctuated by repeated episodes of inflation and hyperinflation. The worst culminated in its 2001-02 economic crisis, when inflation hit a record level of 41% and the country was forced to default on its sovereign debt. This instability caused many Argentinians to convert their savings into US dollars for security. As the country’s foreign reserves dwindled, the government introduced capital controls in 2011 meant to slow the demand for foreign currency. The conversion of peso savings to dollars was tacitly banned, and conversion taxes were raised.
However, instead of reducing demand for foreign currency, these controls created a scramble for black market currency exchange and pushed inflation ever higher. In late January 2014, the official interbank exchange rate fell to eight pesos to the dollar (and has continued to weaken since), while the black market exchange rate jumped to 13.1 pesos to the dollar. Annual inflation rose to 25% in 2013 - double the rate of government estimates - and is expected to climb further to 30% in 2014.
The peso dropped 15% against the USD in just two days in January 2014, the sharpest drop in over 12 years. The central bank immediately moved to relax its currency control policy, seeming to confirm its inability to bring about price stability. The government reduced the tax on USD purchases from 35% to 20% for individuals and allowed residents to convert and hold their savings accounts in USD for the first time since 2011.
The central bank, Banco Central de la República Argentina (CBRA), supervises the financial system, conducts monetary policy, monitors the foreign exchange market and works to preserve the country’s foreign reserves. The central bank has intervened heavily in the forex market in the last two decades in an effort to maintain price stability, but Argentina’s exchange rates and inflation levels have varied widely.
Argentina is the third largest economy in South America and ranks among the world’s largest emerging economies. Following a period of drastic hyperinflation, Argentina introduced a new currency, the peso, in 1992. The peso was held at a fixed exchange rate for the next decade, pegged to the US dollar at a one-to-one ratio. However, this policy failed to ensure stable inflation levels, and the central bank shifted to a free-floating exchange rate in early 2002.
The country has had a turbulent economic history, but showed strong growth leading up to the global economic downturn, averaging annual GDP growth of 8.5% between 2003 and 2008. However, Argentina has been heavily impacted by the global downturn; the value of the Argentine peso has fluctuated considerably in recent years, and its inflation rate has been among the world’s highest in 2014. In the face of rising economic pressure, the government has relaxed some of its currency controls and is working to reduce its external debt.
The Argentina peso (ARS), replaced the Austral as Argentina’s official currency in January 1992. When it was introduced, the peso could be exchanged against the US dollar at a one-to-one ratio, and while the exchange rate has changed significantly today, the dollar sign ($) is still used to denominate the peso.
The central bank issues banknotes in denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 (pesos). Coins are produced in values of $1 - which is gradually replacing the one peso bill - and $2, as well as 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents.
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