Government lifts food import restrictions to tackle inflation

Included in the list are food items and household products like shampoo and diapers

Argentina’s government will lift import restrictions on staple foods and other basic goods in a bid to lower inflation, it announced on Tuesday.

Items in a list published by the Commerce Secretary include bananas, potatoes, pork, insecticide, shampoo, diapers, and medication. A full list has not yet been made public. 

The decision was made following a Monday meeting between Economy Minister Luis Caputo and supermarket owners to discuss inflation, presidential spokesperson Manuel Adorni said at his Tuesday press conference. 

“They acknowledged that prices were above the expected inflation rate,” Adorni said, adding that the companies were planning for a “catastrophic scenario that has not occurred.”

The terms for importers to access U.S. dollars from the Central Bank will change. Until now, the Central Bank disbursed the money in four installments, 30, 60, 90, and 120 days after the import was done. Companies will now be able to access all the dollars they are owed in one payment, 30 days after their purchase. 

Charges for additional value added tax (VAT) and income tax payments on these imports will also be postponed for 120 days.  

Caputo met Friday with representatives from Argentina’s major supermarket chains, Cencosud, Coto, La Anónima, Carrefour, Chango Más, and Día. According to a press release, the economy minister told them that the current prices of basic goods did not reflect the economic situation of the country. 

Caputo said companies “overpriced” their products on the expectation that inflation would be higher than it is, and are now seeking to sell stock without lowering prices. The minister said companies should be “sincere” with their pricing, rather than seeking to offload overpriced stock through contrived special offers.


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