Argentina further limits overseas internet purchases

Argentines can only make two purchases a year on foreign websites.

Argentina further limits overseas internet purchases

World Bulletin / News Bulletin

The Argentine government has further tightened its restrictions on overseas internet purchases to two a year.

In its latest efforts to protect national industry and reduce capital flight, the federal tax bureau, AFIP, announced that residents can only make two purchases a year of physical merchandise over the internet if the seller is based abroad, according to a resolution in the Official Bulletin.

The online purchases will not include digital products, such as apps and e-books.

AFIP added that if a consumer’s total annual purchases surpass US$25, they must pay a 50% import tax on the value of the merchandise and shipping costs above that amount.

The tax bureau justified the tighter controls on the grounds that a surge in online shopping has made it harder for the customs agency to collect taxes and for the national postal service to process all of its packages. The AFIP did not specifically say if purchases via other postal services like FedEx would be restricted.

Argentines have been increasing their overseas shopping – both when traveling and on e-commerce sites – to access a greater variety of goods at lower prices. Authorities estimate that e-commerce transactions on overseas-based sites surged 30-fold to 30,000 in 2013, compared with 2005.

The government has ramped up controls on imports in recent years but has failed to slow inflation, which is on track to reach 30% this year after it averaged 20-25% annually between 2010 and 2013. This has made it cheaper to shop online even when factoring shipping costs from overseas.

Jorge Capitanich, the President’s Chief of Staff, defended the measures in a press conference Wednesday, saying that are designed to defend national industry.

He said 65% of the online purchases have come from China and Hong Kong-based websites that have “a very aggressive strategy” to boost sales in Argentina.

The biggest players include AliExpress and DealExtreme, some of which offer free shipping to Argentina.

“Do you want Argentina to have national production and employment?” Capitanich asked. “We have to defend what is ours, we must defend Argentines’ money and our national interests."

The government is seeking to discourage overseas internet shopping to curb capital flight as dwindling dollar reserves raise concerns about the country’s capacity to pay the national debt and pay for imports, including much-needed energy supplies.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Ocak 2014, 09:34