Monday, September 17, 2012

Trade scenario of Latin America at this time of global not bad at all.

Latin America and the Caribbean was the region with the highest export volume growth in the last quarter of 2011 and the first four months of 2012, amidst the global trade slowdown, according to the 13 September Annual report " Latin America and the Caribbean in the World economy 2011-12 " by the Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean (ECLAC). This performance is explained in part by the fact that the region is less dependent than others on the European Union as a destination market.
More from the report..
The value of the region’s goods exports and imports will climb by around 4% and 3%, respectively, in 2012.
The commodities “supercycle” which began in 2003 could last until 2020, with price growth below the peaks of mid-2008 but higher than the historical trend. This is good news for South America, but less auspicious for Central America and the Caribbean. commodity prices are expected to remain above their historical averages in the coming years
Major shifts in the region’s foreign trade over the past decade in terms of export destination structure have built greater resilience. Between 2000 and 2011, the United States’ share dropped by almost 20 percentage points, from 58% to 39%. In contrast, Asia’s share rose steeply (from 6% to 18%), with China jumping from 1% to 9%. Exports within Latin America and the Caribbean also increased, from 16% to 20%. In short, developing regions have grown as destinations for Latin American and Caribbean exports; since they are also the world’s fastest-growing economies, lower demand for Latin American and Caribbean exports in the industrialized countries has had less of an impact.
Trade between developing nations (South-South trade) will be more buoyant than trade between industrialized countries (North-North trade) and at the current rates, South-South trade could exceed North-North trade by 2020. 
As in the rest of the world, trade restrictions have increased in Latin America and the Caribbean, although not across the board. Particularly in Argentina and Brazil, faltering growth in the past few quarters has fuelled demands from certain sectors to protect national industry. This has occurred in the context of a trend, already observed prior to the crisis, towards greater penetration of Asian manufactures (especially from China) which have displaced imports from the rest of the world as well as local production. As a result, in recent months some countries of the region have introduced measures or made announcements that point to further import restrictions, mainly on industrial products. Some of these actions have been called into question, both within and outside the region.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Import restrictions in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela

Brazilian restrictions on imports
The Brazilian government has imposed 25% customs tariff on 100 itmes imported from outside Mercosur since September 2012. They propose to add another 100 items soon. The proposal to impose extra tariff was approved in the Mercosur summit in end 2011. The Brasilian government has taken recourse to this measure to protect local industries who could not compete with the less expensive imports. The strong Real has made imports cheaper while the domestic cost of production remains high.

Argentine government imposes more stringent restrictions on imports from 1 February 2012
As part of the strategy to reduce outflow of foreign exchange and to encourage domestic production, the government has imposed these measures in addition to the already existing restrictions since 2010. Under the new system, before placing import orders, the importers have to file an Anticipated Import Affidavit Declaracion (Jurada Anticipada de Importacion) to the Tax Authority AFIP, who are expected to take a decision in 72 hours. After this, the same information should be sent by email to the Secretary of Domestic Trade, who is expected to decide in 15 days. The import request can be approved, delayed or rejected or negotiated by the authorities. In general, the government insists that for every dollar of import, importers should export a dollar worth of goods. In some cases, import permission is not given on the ground that the products should be made domestically and cannot be imported. The importer might also be asked to reduce prices or quantity of imports. The import authorization process is arbitrary, non-transparent and personalized by Mr Moreno, the Secretary for Trade.
These restrictions applies to all imports and all countries including Mercosur partner countries.
In addition to these import restrictions, there are also severe foreign exchange restrictions, which has given rise to a  growing black market ( the Argentines call it as Blue market ). The official rate in September 2012 is 4.65 pesos to a dollar while the black market rate is 6.33 pesos to a dollars.
The forex restrictions has become one more hurdle for Argentine importers, already facing import restrictions.

Venezuelan restrictions on imports
The Venezuelan government has a system of complete control of foreign exchange. The government releases foreign currency for imports only for such items and quantities it thinks are needed for the Bolivarian socialist economic system. Any company or importer not in the good books of the government cannot get foreign exchange or import anything.

How long will these restrictions stay?
The Venezuelan restriction is ideology-based and is likely to stay as long as President Chavez stays in power. The Argentine restrictions might be removed when the foreign exchange situation improves, although President Cristina also likes to use the restrictions to control private sector. Brazilian restrictions on selected items are temporary and might be removed when the domestic production becomes competitive.