Import restrictions and an expensive dollar have led to a shortage of products in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (FOLHAPRESS) – Argentinean Federico Loyola (32) has been trying to buy a brand new car since March. “I talk to showrooms, importers, I went to other provinces, there are none. When one or the other appears, I can’t choose either the color or the model. When I decide on a domestically produced car, they give an approximate delivery date, but it’s never correct, because there is a lack of car parts [que são importadas] in the country to finish it. I’ve already come to terms with the fact that I won’t be able to change cars this year,” he told Folha de S.Paulo.

With a shortage of dollars, import restrictions imposed by the government to try to curb capital flight, and high prices driven by inflation, Argentines are losing access to many goods imported or produced with inputs from other countries. There are also those who end up giving in to the parallel market, which is always stronger in those periods.

Constant devaluation of the currency and excessive inflation, which is projected at 90% this year, have led to a jump in import prices.

Folha’s report tried to buy a new computer from an authorized Apple store. The salesman asked in disbelief: “But you don’t know anyone who will travel and can shop abroad, can’t you shop in another country?”.

Customers usually go to the store just to look at the models displayed in the window and then decide which one to buy abroad, he explained. “It’s not really worth it here,” he insisted.

There were only two units in stock of the model requested by the report. One of them was at least four generations old and cost three times as much as if you bought an updated version in Brazil or Chile.

“But then what do people buy here?” The dealer, unflinchingly, replies, “headphones, accessories, and they come to ask if we know anyone who makes ‘schematics’ [trazer de modo clandestino]”.

If there is money piracy, how come there are no gadgets and computers? There was a WhatsApp number that you would just message and set a date to give a dollar amount – the same as you would pay in the US today and the product would be delivered a month later.

There are imported cases still available in the country, but we cannot guarantee their price for more than 24 hours. At the same time, the report decided to just change the computer’s battery. “Yes, we have it, today it costs 80 thousand pesos”. The price would be guaranteed for that day only. “Tomorrow the value is already changing because it depends on the parallel dollar”. The same happens with beauty products, bags or any item that includes imported material.

Purchase restrictions are not limited to items that may be considered luxuries, such as Scotch whisky, salmon or expensive computers.

The producer and seller of alfajores, Daniel Morales from Salta, apologized on his social networks after not distributing his traditional alfajores for a while because they lacked packaging paper and materials to send to other places. “He even lacks paper and ink for labels. We did everything by hand, we improvised the packaging, and now we send our alfajor all over the country, but I’m sad, because it lost a little of its identity. Morales included a letter in each package apologizing for the drop in product quality.

Even coffee is feeling the impact of Argentina’s economic moment. “Want something more porteño than going to a patisserie and ordering a coffee? Even that is at risk, because we can’t guarantee coffee after September, when we run out of stock,” said Gerardo Biaggi, manager of the Belgrano neighborhood Café Martínez.

And those who think that Argentinian wine will become cheaper after so many devaluations can even count on a price reduction, but they will have to prepare for an “artisan” presentation, because imported cardboard packaging boxes and even a plastic bubble may be missing. “It’s common to be asked if I send wine bought here to the US. But I explain the tricks to a foreign buyer so that he can take it in his own trunk without attracting attention, because it costs less than three times if I sent it by mail,” says Álvaro Pruat, from the Argentine exporter wine.

The distance between the value of the US currency in the official quotation (145 pesos) and the parallel quotation, known as “blue” (295 pesos), causes constant price marking.

Imports into Argentina are carried out according to the official exchange rate, through currency quotas assigned to companies by the Central Bank, based on purchases invoiced in previous years.

With this mechanism and the increase in international product prices, importers have to reduce their procurement quantities.

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