Argentina Economics and Business

Abbreviated as ARG by, Argentina is one of the most prosperous countries in South America, but the economy has declined since 2016, partly due to foreign debt and high inflation, which in 2017 was 24.8 percent (INDEC). The general standard of living has declined, and about 29 percent of the population lives in poverty (INDEC, 2018). Argentina is not really a developing country, although it has some social problems similar to the developing countries.

Argentina GDP (Nominal, $USD) 2003-2017

Tourism has become increasingly important to the economy. In 2017, the country was visited by 2.7 million tourists, most from other Latin American countries such as Brazil and Chile, but also from the United States, Canada and Europe. Among the most important destinations are Buenos Aires, the Andes, Mar del Plata, the Iguazú Falls and the Fire Land.

Argentina held the presidency of the G20 in 2018.


Over half of the total area is used for agricultural production. Mostly used as pasture. Breeding (cattle, pigs and horses) is mainly run on pampas and in Patagonia, where they concentrate on sheep breeding. Argentina is one of the world’s largest producers of beef.

Grain is grown on two-thirds of the cultivated area. The most important grains are wheat, which is grown in a wide belt from Bahía Blanca in the south to Santa Fe in the north, and maize which has increased in importance. Both wheat and maize are mainly exported. Rye, barley, oats and rice are also grown. Other important agricultural products are sugar cane, cotton, flax and sunflower seeds, alfalfa, grapes, fruitand the national drink mate. Argentinian agriculture is highly mechanized, and cattle farming in particular is dominated by large estates, estancias.

Forests cover a fifth of the area, but forestry is relatively poorly developed. Half of the country’s timber needs must be imported. In the far north, the quebracho tree, which contains tannic acid, is utilized and in addition gives a very hard building timber.

  • Paulsourcing: Top 10 tips for doing business in Argentina, covering country profile and market entry requirement.

Mining, energy

The country’s mineral resources are only partially exploited. With the exception of oil and natural gas, the known mineral deposits are relatively small and scattered. There are deposits of iron ore, coke and coal, lead, zinc, silver, gold, copper, tin, tungsten, manganese and uranium. Argentina is almost self-sufficient with petroleum and petroleum products. Most of the petroleum production takes place in the Comodoro Rivadavia area, where it has been operating since 1907. Alongside the fields in Neuquén at Río Negro, this area supplies the capital Buenos Aires with petroleum via pipelines.

In 2016, primary energy consumption was 3.6 exa joules (EJ), of which 14 percent was based on imports. Per capita consumption is about 80 GJ. About half of the country’s energy needs are covered by natural gas.

Natural gas also accounts for about half of the energy used for the production of electrical energy, while around 25 percent is based on hydropower. The country has large hydropower resources that have not yet been utilized, but in recent years several large hydropower plants have been built, including Yaciretá-Apipe (4050 MW) at Río Paraná, which was built in collaboration with Paraguay. South America’s first nuclear power plant is located in Atucha at Río Paraná 100 km from Buenos Aires. Later, a nuclear power plant south of Córdoba was completed, and nuclear power covers about 10 percent of the power demand.


The industry has traditionally been based on the processing of agricultural products. There are a number of slaughterhouses, dairies, freezers, canned mills, mills, sugar refineries, textile and leather factories and so on. However, with state support, there has been rapid growth in many other branches of industry, especially after the Second World War. This includes plastics, steel, machinery, cement and petrochemicals.

The industry is largely concentrated to Buenos Aires and the Pampas area, as well as to the ports along Río Paraná and close to the commodity deposits. The country’s largest steel mill, which was commissioned in 1960, is located in San Nicolás at Río Paraná below Rosario. Iron and steel production also takes place in Rosario, Buenos Aires and Zapla. San Lorenzo, 24 km above Rosario, is at the heart of a large petrochemical complex that produces plastic products, fertilizers and synthetic rubber. There is aluminum production in Puerto Madryn on the coast of Patagonia. From 2001 to 2002, Argentina suffered a crisis that led to a sharp decline in industrial production.

Foreign Trade

Argentina has a large deficit on its foreign trade and the country’s large foreign debt entails significant interest payments abroad. Foreign debt was more than four times the value of exports during most of the 1990s.

In 2017, Argentina exported goods abroad for a total of US $ 58.4 billion (INDEC, 2018). Most of the export value consists of agricultural peoducts (soy, maize, beef). The country also exports some oil and gas, fruit and biodiesel (see table).

In 2017, Argentina imported goods for $ 66.8 billion (INDEC, 2018). Imports include machinery, chemicals, iron, steel and coal and are from countries such as Brazil, Mexico, USA, Germany and China (see table).

Transport and Communications

Argentina has the largest and densest rail network in South America (approximately 33,000 km). The course was built and operated by British and French companies, nationalized in 1948 and later privatized. The runways gather in Buenos Aires; three of them cross the Andes, to Santiago and Antofagasta in Chile and La Paz in Bolivia.

Note: the capital city of Argentina is Buenos Aires with a population of 14,215,000 (estimated 2019, including suburbs). Other major cities include Córdoba with a population of 1,4446,000, Rosario with a population of 1,284,000, Salta with a population of 623,000, Tucumán with a population of 602,000.

The road network has a length of approximately 218,000 km, of which 30 percent has a fixed tire. Construction of a 42 km long bridge over the Rio de la Plata, between Punta Lara (near Buenos Aires) in Argentina and Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay. Estimated construction time is 35 years (1999). Bus transport is important for passenger transport.

Main port cities are Buenos Aires, Quequén and Bahía Blanca. There are 10 international airports, most importantly Ezeiza, 35 km outside Buenos Aires.

Largest trading partners

Foreign trade in billions of dollars, broken down by country 2017.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Find major trading partners of Argentina, including major exports and major imports with latest trade value and market share as well as growth rate.
Trading Partner Export Import
Brazil 9.3 17.8
China 4.3 12.3
Europe (especially Germany, Spain, France and Switzerland) 11.1 12.7
United States (including Puerto Rico and Oceania) 4.4 7.5
Mexico 0.6 2.0

Export Goods

Exports by major commodity groups in 2016, when total exports were worth $ 58.4 billion.

Exportable Percentage of total
soja 30%
corn 7.3%
Cattle products (meat, leather and milk) 4.5%
Fruit 3.9%
Oil and gas 3.3%

Import Goods

Imports by major commodity groups in 2017, when total imports were worth $ 66.9 billion.

Import Product Percentage of total
Capital and investment goods (machinery, electronic goods) 48.5%
Parts for capital and investment goods 17.1%
Consumables (food, drink, clothing, etc.) 14.0%
Cars 11.5%

Argentina Economics and Business

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