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flag Argentina Argentina: Foreign investment

In this page: FDI in Figures | What to consider if you invest in Argentina | Protection of Foreign Investment | Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment | Office Real Estate and Land Ownership | Investment Aid | Investment Opportunities | Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer | Finding Assistance For Further Information

 

FDI in Figures

FDI inflows in Argentina have been unstable for several years. According to the 2021 World Investment Report published by UNCTAD, Argentina's FDI inflows, already on a downward trajectory since 2018, plummeted 38% to USD 4.1 billion in 2020 from USD 6.7 billion in 2019. The country suffered a protracted shutdown of the industrial sector, causing a decline in fixed capital formation and a drop in economic activity (10%). Already facing a deep recession since 2018, the country was forced to default on its external debt.  The difficult environment had a strong impact on FDI: new investments retreated by 45% and reinvested earnings fell by 22%. M&A saw USD 290 million in disinvestment after major international investors (including Walmart (US), Schlumberger (US), MetLife (US) and Danone (France)) sold their local businesses to domestic or regional investors. On the other hand, in January 2021, U.S-based Accenture acquired Wolox, a leading Argentinean cloud native and agile development company. With a USD 3 billion investment over the next three years, the group seeks to bring together an unmatched depth of cloud expertise to Argentina.
FDI stocks amounted to USD 85 billion in 2020. Outward investment from Argentina decreased, reaching USD 1.2 billion in 2020.
The US, Spain and the Netherlands represent more than the half of FDI inflows. Other main investing countries are Brazil, Chile, Switzerland, Uruguay, France, Germany and Canada. These investments have been mainly oriented towards manufacturing, mine and oil extraction, trade, banking and other financial entities, information and communication and agriculture.

The Argentine government actively seeks foreign direct investment, but economic insecurity and recurring crises hamper the task. The overall openness to foreign investment is below average. Still, Argentina has definite assets: its natural resources are considerable (copper, gas and oil) and its workforce is highly skilled and competitive. On the other hand, restrictions have been placed on FDI in the agricultural sector, which is highly important for the country's food security. Moreover, more recently implemented measures (a restrictive property law and nationalisations in the energy sector, which have affected the Spanish oil giant Repsol) have discouraged potential investors. Nevertheless, in 2021, Chinese companies Zijin Mining Group and Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd invested USD 1 billion on rights over three lithium mines in Argentina. On the other hand, Argentina has been implementing measures to attract investors, such as adopting a preferential tax regime for the automotive sector, which has promoted regional car production chains among Mercosur countries. However, the business climate in Argentina is still rather poor. According to the World Bank's last Doing Business report, which was released in 2020, the country ranked at the 126th place out of 190 countries, a seven-spot decline from 2019.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 201920202021
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 6,6634,0196,534
FDI Stock (million USD) 70,45884,31998,928
Number of Greenfield Investments* 9263101
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 4,1154,0813,801

Source: UNCTAD, Latest available data.

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

 

FDI STOCKS BY COUNTRY AND INDUSTRY

Main Investing Countries 2016 (latest official data available), in %
USA 23.0
Spain 18.0
The Netherlands 12.0
Brazil 6.0
Chile 5.0
Switzerland 5.0
Uruguay 5.0
France 4.0
Germany 3.0
Canada 3.0
Main Invested Sectors 2016 (latest official data available), in %
Manufacturing 35.0
Mine and oil extraction 22.3
Retail and wholesale 10.9
Other financial entities 9.1
Banking 6.0
Information and communication 5.0
Agriculture 2.4

Source: Central Bank of Argentina - Latest available data.

 
Form of Company Preferred By Foreign Investors
Public limited company - SA
Form of Establishment Preferred By Foreign Investors
Subsidiary
Main Foreign Companies
Many foreign companies, mostly European and American, have invested in Argentina. Some examples: Peugeot, General Motors, Carrefour, Telefonica, Wal-Mart and Sony.
Sources of Statistics
National Statistics Center

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What to consider if you invest in Argentina

Strong Points

Argentina's strong points for FDI include:

  • Richness of natural resources
  • A developed industrial base
  • Deep and broad middle class
  • Highly educated population
  • National infrastructure is in deep need of renewal, which creates new opportunities for sales to or contracting with government in areas such as rail, telecommunications, electricity, etc.
  • Government is oriented towards pro-market reforms, which already has led to a better business climate
Weak Points

Argentina's main weak points for FDI include:

  • A fragile and undercapitalised banking sector
  • Investments in electricity have proven insufficient
  • High inflation
  • High vulnerability toward commodity prices, especially those of agrarian products
  • Macro-economic imbalance
  • Fragile institutional framework
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
The previous Argentinian Government led by President Macri had made significant economic changes, including an end to currency controls, new tax cuts and the collaboration with the IMF to improve the integrity of the country's economic data. The government led by Fernandez is also actively working to improve the transparency of administrative and regulatory processes.

Through legislative measures, Argentina tries to attract foreign investors in the gas, energy, technology, aeronautics and telecommunication sectors. Also, regional development plans for infrastructure have been launched. The development of access to internet, notably through the development of the fibre optic network, constitutes a promising investment opportunity promoted by the government. Argentina regularly organises events with foreign trade delegations. Programs to promote existing investments also exist, ranging from reimbursement of the VAT to sectoral incentives.

The local investment agency Invest in Argentina has been put under the direction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a National Directorate for Investment Promotion has been recently established under the Under Secretary for Trade and Investment Promotion.

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Protection of Foreign Investment

Bilateral Investment Conventions Signed By Argentina
Argentina has signed bilateral agreements on investments with more than 60 countries.

To see the list of countries, click here.

International Controversies Registered By UNCTAD
For further information, consult UNCTAD's Investment Dispute Settlement Navigator.
Organizations Offering Their Assistance in Case of Disagreement
ICCWBO , International Chamber of Commerce
CAC , Argentine Chamber of Commerce
ICSID , International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes
Member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
Yes, since 1992.
 
Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Argentina Latin America & Caribbean United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 7.0 4.1 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 2.0 5.2 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 6.0 6.7 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
Foreign private entities can establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity in nearly all sectors, with the same conditions as local companies. Foreigners can have the full equity ownership, with exception in the air transportation and media industries (maximum 49% for the former, 30% for the latter).
Acquisition of Holdings
Foreign investors are able to invest in all sectors of the economy on equal footing with national investors. The current investment regime is a liberal one. Foreign investment is not subject to any authorisation or declaration, regardless of the amount or the activity envisaged, even if this means taking a majority share in the capital of a local company. However, in sectors like the air transportation and media industries foreign ownership is restricted by the law (maximum 49% and 30%, respectively). Moreover, foreigners cannot own land that allows for the extension of existing bodies of water or that are located near a Border Security Zone, and cannot own more than 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) in the most productive farming areas.
Obligation to Declare
Foreign investors that want to set up a business in Argentina follow the same procedures as domestic entities, without the need for prior approval. However, the company must register its name with the Office of Corporations (Inspeccion General de Justicia - IGJ), and must request that the College of Public Notaries submit the company’s accounting books to be certified with the IGJ.
Profits and dividends have to be declared in closed and audited financial statements.
Competent Organisation For the Declaration
Inspeccion General de Justicia
Requests For Specific Authorisations
There is no declaration, in principle, except for large projects which require the agreement of the competent ministry. For example: the TGV (high speed train) must receive authorisation from the Ministry of Infrastructure.
In certain sectors, like aviation and media, foreign ownership is restricted.

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Office Real Estate and Land Ownership

Possible Temporary Solutions
There are several possible temporary solutions: domiciliation of the company at the private address of the director, and domiciliation in a business center.
The Possibility of Buying Land and Industrial and Commercial Buildings
Yes. It is possible to buy freehold, to build industrial and commercial premises or to buy through a real estate company.
However, foreigners cannot own more than 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) in the most productive farming areas, and foreign ownership is rescricted to a maximum of 30% of national land and 15% of productive land.
Risk of Expropriation
Foreign investors are entitled to compensation if they are victims of expropriation (section 17 of the Constitution).

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Investment Aid

Forms of Aid
The industrial promotion program is determined by Decree n° 2054/92, in force since 1 February 1992. It is the Under-Secretary for Investment's office, a division of the Secretariat for Commerce and Investment, which is in charge of deciding which sectors and regions to promote and the advantages foreign investors may lay claim to. The mechanism of aid to investment has been revised.

In principle, aid no longer takes the form of tax exemptions or reductions, but tax credits, covering the theoretical fiscal cost of the project, which is calculated according to the level of development of the area of activity being encouraged. Other forms of aid to investment have been developed: tax exemptions, special import regimes, accelerated depreciation for machines, equipment and infrastructure work.

Several tax incentives are available in the mining, forestry, biotechnology and energy sectors, as well as for investments in specific regions (like the Tierra del Fuego).

Privileged Domains
Public infrastructures, biofuels, hydrocarbons, software industry, mining sector, export of IT services, knowledge-based companies, forestry, biotechnology, etc.
Privileged Geographical Zones
Province of San Luis, Ushuaïa, Catamarca, La Rioja, San Juan, Tierra del Fuego, the Antarctic and the islands of the South Atlantic.
Free-trade zones
Map of all the free zones by the World Free Zones Organization
Public aid and funding organisations
Invierta en Argentina
 
 

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Investment Opportunities

The Key Sectors of the National Economy
Agriculture, automobile, food processing, raw materials, agrarian and food processing machines, health.
High Potential Sectors
Call centres, information and communication technologies, natural resources management, hydrocarbons.
Privatization Programmes
During the 1990's, numerous economic sectors were opened to private interests, before being renationalised at the beginning of the 2000's.
The current administration led by Fernandez has not developed a privatization program yet.
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
GlobalTenders: Argentina, Tenders and projects in Argentina
Tenders Info: Argentina, Tenders in Argentina
DgMarket: Tenders Worldwide, Tenders Worldwide

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Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer

Monopolistic Sectors
Steel, concrete (hidden monopolies). For example, for concrete, two families control the market. For steel, there is one producer who controls competition. When a customer is no longer of interest to him, he leaves him to the others.
There are no longer any public monopolies. Nevertheless, FDI is limited in the aviation, media, rural property and aquifer reserves sectors.

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Latest Update: November 2022