The Economy of Argentina Essay
The Economy of Argentina
The Republic of Argentina (República Argentina) is the second largest country in South America, with total area 2,766,890 sq km. The country is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Andes mountain range, and borders such countries as Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay and Brazil. The republic is divided into 6 major geographical regions, as well as into 23 federal provinces (provincias) and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires (Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires), which is the capital and the largest city of modern Argentina. The official language of the country is Spanish.
Argentina stretches for about 3,900 km from south to north and for about 1,400 km from west to east. The climate of the country varies from maritime subantarctic in the southern islands to subtropical in the north. The terrain is dominated by plateaus and plains in the northern regions, the steppes to the south, and mountainous regions to the west. The country’s coastline is about 5,000 km (CIA, 2009).
In July 2008, it is estimated that the population of Argentina exceeded 40 million people. Those are mostly Latin American nations of Spanish descent (98%), and indigenous minorities (Mestizo, Anerindians and others, 3%). Overwhelming majority of the population are Roman Catholics (92%). Population growth rate is 1.07 and sex ratio (for 15-64 age group) is 0.99 male/female (est. 2008). The literacy rate is 97.2% for all age groups, which is one of the highest literacy indexes among the nations of South America (CIA, 2009).
Argentina’s Economy: General Overview.
Specialists underline that the economy of Argentina has been recently on rise after the recovery from a severe economic crisis of 2001/2002. Over the last 5 years, the country’s GDP growth has been quite high: 9.2% in 2005, 8.6% in 2007 and 6.6% in 2008 (slowed down by the international financial crises). Such progress was achieved at the expense of industrialization, national debt restructuring and flexible fiscal policy of the government. Current GDP (ppp) is 585 billion USD, and GDP per capita is 14,500 USD (CIA, 2009).
Traditionally, the country’s economy was based on the production of agricultural goods, and now Argentina remains among the world’s leading exporters of such products as corn, wool, wheat, sunflower seeds, soybeans, fruit, meat, tobacco, food processing and other related products. Besides, the country has numerous natural reserves of important minerals, including coal, iron ore, copper, zinc and tin, as well as vast resources of natural gas and oil, which make the country self-sufficient in its needs for energy.
Argentinean economy enjoys the benefits of highly qualified and educated labor force, which was estimated in 2008 as 16.27 million people. More than a half of the labor force is employed in services (56.7%), the share of industrial workers is 34%, and the rest are employed in agriculture and other economic sectors. In 2008, the urban unemployment rate in Argentina totaled 7.8%. At that, government spends over 13% of the national budget for various labor and education programs (CIA, 2009).
Banking and Financial Sectors
Despite quite impressive economic development, relatively high level of inflation remains among the main macroeconomic problems in Argentina. In 2008, the inflation rate was estimated as 21%, and this was a result of unsuccessful privatization and other economic reforms of the country’s former president, Carlos Menem. Those policies also brought to high levels of unemployment and huge national debts in the end of the 1990s. Along with high dependence of the country’s system on the economy of Brazil, those reforms resulted in massive economic crisis in 2001/2002 (The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2007).
Flexible financial, fiscal and monetary policies of the post-crisis presidents of Argentina, supported by global economic integration and growth, helped the country to achieve some balance in the financial sector. In particular, since 2003 the government managed to accumulate certain financial reserves and achieve fiscal surplus at the expense of increased tax burden and general tax system modification. Besides, certain improvements were recently achieved in income distribution. However, more than a fifth of the population is estimated to live below the poverty line (GlobalEDGE, 2009).
Monetary unit of Argentina is Argentine peso (ARS), and current nominal exchange rates vary between 3.15 and 3.2 peso per 1 American dollar. The banking sector is represented by a network of public banks. Around 85 banking institutions are private, and about a half of those is owned by foreign investors. Banco de la Nación Argentina is the largest bank which has about a fourth of the country’s banking deposits. Crediting policies of the banks are quite tight, and in 2008 prime rate of the banks was 28% (CIA, 2009).
Exports and Imports
Foreign trade is a very important factor, which has been stimulating economic progress and development of Argentina for the last decade. In 1991, exports/imports of the country equaled to 11% of GDP, and in 2007, overseas trade was estimated as 39% of the country’s GDP. At that, Argentinean economy could benefit from quite high foreign trade surplus, which was estimated as 12 billion dollars in 2006 and 11.2 billion dollars in 2007 (GlobalEDGE, 2009).
In 2008, the exports of Argentina totaled 73 billion dollars, and the main exports- partners of the country were Brazil (receives about 19% of total exports), the countries of the European Union (about 18%), China (9.4%), the United States (7.9%), Chile (7.6%), Mexico and other countries. The main exports of Argentina include mostly agriculture products, such as grains, soybeans, corn, cattle, as well as petroleum, gas and other energy products, motor vehicles and various technology products, etc.
At the same time, the country’s imports in 2008 totaled 59.9 billion dollars, giving more than 13 billion dollars of overseas trade surplus. The main imports of Argentina include various industrial machinery and equipment (up to 40% of total imports), automobiles, plastics and chemicals, refined fuels and so on. Brazil is the main imports-partner of Argentina, which gives about 34% of the total imports. Other imports come from China (12%), the United States (12%), Germany (5%), Mexico (3%), etc (CIA, 2009).
Opportunities for Foreign Investors
Economic environment of Argentina is one of the most attractive markets among the national economies of Latin American countries. A lot of financial and other investments were recently received from such developed countries as Japan, the U.S., Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, China, and many others. It is estimated that currently, about 450 companies owned by the U.S. investors operate in Argentinean market, giving a job to more than 150,000 local employees (GlobalEDGE, 2009).
The most attractive and profitable industries for overseas investors include manufacturing, real estate, construction and transportation, telecommunication, mining and energy sectors. However, current considerable governmental debts to international financial institutions and numerous arbitration claims of the creditors affect investment and financial climate of the country.
Conclusion: What Your Company Should Sell or Buy in Argentina?
Therefore, the present Argentinean market and economic environment should be considered favorable for starting a new business or investing funds. At that, when thinking about possible international trade and the opportunities to buy high-quality goods from Argentinean companies or enterprises, many specialists would recommend buying agricultural products, such as wheat, soybeans, sunflower oil, corn, cereals, as well as fruit, meat, a variety of food processing products, along with energy products, refined fuels, vehicles, industrial and high technology goods (GlobalEDGE, 2009).
As to possible investments, such sectors as telecommunication, agriculture, hotel and tourism business, services, energy and petroleum are currently among the most attractive and lucrative economic sectors in Argentina. Finally, knowing the specifics of the local market and the needs of Argentinean business enterprises and companies, it is possible to suggest selling such products as industrial machinery, tools and equipment, scientific equipment and instruments, manufactured goods, chemicals and various organic materials, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, and so on.
Argentina. (2009). GlobalEDGE. Michigan State University. Retrieved March 11, 2009: <http://globaledge.msu.edu/countryInsights/country.asp?countryID=98®ionID=4>.
Argentina. (2007). The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. NY: Columbia University Press.
Argentina. (2009, March 5). The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved March 11, 2009, from <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ar.html>.