The shortage of foreign currency is already having a full impact on the national productive apparatus. However, the country must continue functioning, the industries producing and more than 80% of what is manufactured in Argentina has some imported component. A new cycle begins and the way of managing one of the most sensitive issues for the industry will change. Devaluation jump, differentiated treatment for those who have commercial debt, laundering for the use of their own banknotes and a t-shirt that says “there are no dollars”, some clues of the foreign trade that is coming during the management of Javier Milei.
In the final days of last week, businessmen and women had a first certainty: the Ministry of Commerce will continue to exist. They heard confirmation from the voice of Pablo Lavignethe former national director of Foreign Trade Facilitation, who told them that he will occupy the hot seat left by economist Matías Tombolini.
It will do so in a context of serious difficulties for the industry in accessing essential inputs. In recent days, auto parts companies expressed their concern and warned of an imminent stock shortage. Some automotive terminals anticipated possible shortages and decided to bring forward vacations scheduled for next year. In Tierra del Fuego, Mirgor did not renew some 300 contracts and also anticipated the rest of a similar number of workers.
At this time the concern cuts across all sectors. According to data from the consulting firm 1816, Commercial debt grew more than US$24 billion this year. Although the bulk of this liability corresponds to credits between subsidiaries and parent companies, payments that could be postponed, there are also more complex situations: international suppliers that refuse to lower merchandise until pending invoices are settled.
In the next few hours (or days), the Minister of Economy, Luis Caputo, will make announcements about the first economic measures. In the City, everyone discounts a strong devaluation of the peso and the continuity of the PAIS tax but extended to all goods. However, this would not include an exchange rate unification and much less a total opening of the stocks.
At least In the immediate future, the administration of the trade will continue. And there is not enough currency. Despite reports of an early liquidation, agribusiness sources assure that the impact of the drought continues to complicate producers who, expecting a devaluation, did not ship grains in recent weeks either. “I have a t-shirt that says there are no dollars,” joked a sector leader.
The summary they make in the field is that to have a relevant amount of dollars from agribusiness we will have to wait at least until April or May. The Government speculates that the new exchange rate should help slow down the demand for foreign currency. They believe that the new scenario can also reactivate liquidations that slowed down in recent weeks.
In conversations with businessmen, members of the economic team of La Libertad Avanza, they slipped some alternatives for the upcoming scheme. This package could include a Differential treatment in access to new imports between those who have and those who do not have commercial debt. In that case, a schedule would be proposed for the cancellation of the stock pending official listing. In that dialogue, the possibility of using the Cash with Settlement segment was also raised so that companies can catch up with their suppliers.
Another idea that came up in the dialogue is the use of “own dollars.”. A proposal that a group of businessmen developed some years ago. It could go hand in hand with an ambitious project of Whitening which, they suggest near Milei, would be much more comprehensive than the one promoted by Mauricio Macri in 2016.