major macro economic indicators
|2018||2019||2020 (e)||2021 (f)|
|GDP growth (%)||-2.6||-2.1||-9.9||5.8|
|Inflation (yearly average, %)||34.3||53.5||42.6||47.5|
|Budget balance (% GDP)||-5.2||-3.8||-8.5||-5.3|
|Current account balance (% GDP)||-5.2||-0.9||0.8||0.7|
|Public debt (% GDP)||89.8||88.5||103.6||104.5|
(e): Estimate (f): Forecast
- Major agricultural player (notably soya, wheat and corn)
- Large shale oil and gas reserves
- Education level higher than the regional average
- GDP per capita above the region´s average
- Weak fiscal accounts
- Capital controls, due to the lack of confidence in the Argentinian Peso and limited foreign exchange reserves
- Dependence on agricultural commodity prices and weather conditions
- Sticky and skyrocketing inflation
- Bottlenecks in infrastructure
Economy set to emerge from a three-year recession
In the first quarter of 2021, GDP grew by 2.5% year-on-year and 2.6% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ). In the quarterly comparison, the increase was mainly driven by the recovery of investments (6.1% QoQ) and the vigour shown by exports (19.2%) favoured by the high prices of agricultural commodities. However, the recovery trajectory suffered a temporary setback in the second quarter, as mobility restriction measures were reinforced in the interval. Looking ahead, activity is expected to resume from Q3 2021 onwards. Growth should mainly follow the COVID-19 vaccination progress, favouring sectors highly affected by physical distancing requirements (such as services related to accommodation and leisure). As of 28 July 2021, the country had 14% of its population fully immunized and 54 % with at least one shot. The sensitive fiscal situation limits the space for an increase in public expenditure. Moreover, private investments should register a shy improvement, as strong capital controls, and the lack of a clear economic policy are relevant hindrances. Furthermore, household consumption is likely to perform quite similarly, since the still mediocre conditions on job market and the sticky high inflation will continue to erode purchasing power. In fact, aiming to curb inflationary pressures, the central bank has kept the pace of currency depreciation below inflation this year. In addition, government banned meat export for 30 days in May 2021 (later replaced by export quota), in a failed attempt to move its domestic prices down. Furthermore, downside risks remain mainly related to new COVID-19 strains in the country and the limited net foreign currency reserves that may lead to increased capital controls.
Current account to remain in surplus; fiscal deficit still high
The current account surplus in four rolling quarters increased marginally in Q1 2021 to 0.9% of GDP, majorly driven by the narrowing of the primary income deficit (drop in interest payments due to the Q3 2020 external debt restructuring) but also by a lower services deficit (drop in abroad travels). Conversely, the trade balance surplus shrunk in the period, as the domestic activity improvement (favouring imports) offset the tailwinds from higher commodity export prices. On the financing side, foreign direct investments in the same time stood stable from the previous quarter at 1% of GDP. The higher USD inflows related to the strong commodity export revenues this year has allowed the central to buy greenback (USD 7.7 billion in the year until mid-July 2021), in order to comfort its weak foreign currency reserves and limit the peso depreciation. As a result, these reserves stood at USD 43 billion, with net currency reserves at a much lower level (roughly USD 8.6 billion in June). Nonetheless, agro export revenues being historically lower in the second half of the year, alongside possible higher pressure on the exchange rate due to the midterm elections, the use of the central bank´s reserves could be required. It is also important to note that the country should receive USD 3.45 billion this year from the IMF Special Drawing Rights global allocation. This will likely help the government to serve the USD 4.5 billion debt payments to this organisation this year. In addition, in June 2021, an agreement with the Paris Club of bilateral creditors was reached, avoiding an USD 2.4 billion default. The Club gave the country until March 2022 to restructure its USD 44 billion debt with IMF. Within this period, Argentina will pay USD 430 million to the forum. Recently the IMF and Argentina have announced progress, but negotiations are only expected to be concluded after the November 2021 midterm elections. On the fiscal side, the budget deficit will narrow this year, driven by higher tax collection, lower real wages and pensions, despite recently announced measures to protect most vulnerable sectors along H2 2021. The budget deficit is expected to be financed mostly by the central bank.
The president's falling popularity could affect the outcome of the November 2021 midterm election
President´s Alberto Fernandez’s prompt decision to impose a lockdown proved beneficial to his popularity in the early months of the COVID-19 crisis. However, the prolongation of the pandemic, the setbacks in the reopening process and their economic consequences, reverted the positive tendency. In July 2021, Fernández registered the worst image indicator since he took office as president in 2019, according to a compilation by Directorio Legislativo. His positive image dropped from 43% to 34%, and from 80% in March 2020. With the economic and social side effects of the crisis, the initially moderate stance of the government has given way to the hardliner and interventionist orientation linked to Vice-President Cristina Kirchner. This could have spillover effects in the legislative elections that will take place in November 2021. On this occasion, half of the Lower House (127 seats) will be renewed, as well as a third of the Senate (24 seats). Still, it is important to note that the Congress will have to approve a debt agreement with IMF. This can be challenging, if the Kirchnerist wing comes out stronger from midterm elections. The latter has a historically frictional relationship with this organisation.
Last updated: August 2021
The most common payment instruments in local commercial transactions are:
- cash (for low-value retail transactions);
- bank transfers;
- cheques (ordinary cheques, deferred payment cheques or other types).
In case of default, these cheques represent an executable legal document that facilitates a fast track legal proceeding.
For international commercial transactions, the most common payment instrument is Bank transfer via SWIFT. Since December 2019, the new government has implemented restrictions on foreign exchange and fund transfers from Argentina. Payments to related companies abroad are not allowed.
Out-of-court settlement negotiations are focused on the payment of the principal, plus any contractual default interest that may be added. Argentine regulations provide alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, which is mandatory prior to commencement of any judicial process. At this stage, it is advised to obtain a notarised acknowledgement of debt signed by the debtor, or notarized payment plan agreement signed by both parties. Under amicable negotiation, fees payable only apply to recoveries obtained.
Argentina is a federal republic with 24 independent judicial systems and national judicial system. The highest court in the country is the National Supreme Court.
Regarding debtors abroad, Argentine courts only have jurisdiction when debtors have assets in Argentina (in which case insolvency proceedings will only involve such assets) or when their principal place of business is in Argentina.
The Argentine Civil and Commercial Code classifies proceedings into two types: ordinary proceedings (juicio ordinario) and executory or fast track proceedings (juicio ejecutivo). Ordinary proceedings usually last between one and four years. If applicable, an appeal may be filed for the Court of Appeals to hear the case.
Executory processes are simplified and prompt proceedings that mainly consist of claimants’ request for the execution of debtors’ assets to obtain payment of a debt. They apply when creditor has documents known as enforceable instruments (titulos ejecutivos), such as public instruments, private instruments signed by the concerned party (debtor or guarantor) and legally acknowledged, bills of exchange, checks or credit invoices. Contrary to ordinary proceedings, it is not necessary to provide proof of the debt. The judgment is delivered between approximately six months and two years.
Costs include a court tax (3% of the amount in dispute to be paid by claimants upon commencing proceedings), and lawyers’ fees. The prevailing party is entitled to recover its costs, including attorneys’ fees (subject to court approval).
All documents (original or notarised copies) submitted to the court must be (i) apostilled (for member countries of the 1961 Hague convention, which includes Argentina), and (ii) authenticated by the Argentine consulate in the issuing country. All non-Spanish documents must be translated by a certified translator registered in Argentina.
Enforcement of a Legal Decision
For local judgments, final decisions are initially considered enforceable. However, if a decision has been appealed, it can be partially enforceable in relation to the part of the judgment that is final. In principle, any of the debtor’s assets can be seized (including but not limited to property, trademarks, and accounts receivable from third parties and shares).
There are three insolvency proceedings:
Out-of court reorganization
Acuerdo preventivo extrajudicial (APE) is a proceeding in which the debtor and a majority of unsecured creditors enter into a restructuring agreement. This
agreement must be submitted by the debtor to an Argentine court for it to become enforceable. In practice, out-of-court agreements provide a series of conditions that must be complied with, including a minimum threshold of consenting creditors.
Concurso preventivo is a reorganisation proceeding that can be initiated voluntarily by an individual or entity, who must submit proof of their inability to pay their debts. Debtors must file a petition to the court requesting relief under bankruptcy law. The court will appoint a trustee. All creditors must file evidence of their proof of claim with the trustee (verificación de créditos). Debtors must submit a proposal for reorganization and must obtain creditors’ approval during an “exclusive period” of 90 days, with the possibility of an extension. If the proposal is approved by the majority, the judge reviews the terms of the plan prior to approving it. Upon homologation by the court, the reorganization plan becomes effective to all unsecured creditors (even those who have not agreed to it). A special payment offer can only be proposed and approved for secured creditors. If the proposal is not approved by the required majority (51%), debtor bankruptcy may follow. The process generally takes between one and two years, depending on the volume and nature of debt being renegotiated and the size of the debtor.
Quiebra is initiated when a reorganization proceeding fails, either voluntarily (by the debtor) or involuntarily (by the debtor’s creditors’ request). The petitioner must show that the company is insolvent or that it has entered into a “suspension of payments” status. In case of an involuntary bankruptcy, after the petition has been filed with the relevant court and all necessary evidence is presented, the court will summon the debtor to provide an explanation of the reasons why payments of the obligations in favour of the petitioning creditor have not been made and to prove that the debtor is solvent. If the debtor is unable to do so, the court will declare the debtor bankrupt. Unlike reorganization, bankrupt debtors lose control of the administration of their assets. A trustee is appointed in order to preserve and administer the debtor’s property. As a result, all payments to creditors and debtor must be made through court. All claims and proceedings against the debtor are automatically stayed as from the date of the order that determines debtor’s bankruptcy. All creditors must submit their proof of claims for payment. Once the assets available and the amounts owned to each creditor are determined, the trustee liquidates the assets and proceeds with the distribution of repayment to creditors.