According to the Exchange Balance reported by the highest monetary authority, in 2021 export settlements were registered for US$76,423 million (an improvement of 51.7%) and foreign currency was sold for imports for US$41,865 million ( an increase of 46%).
In December alone, a surplus of US$1,060 million was recorded, due to exports of US$6,741 million and imports of US$5,681 million.
The “cash” surplus was US$532 million higher than that reported by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC). The body led by Marco Lavagna collects data from Customs, which are the orders of the operations of foreign trade agents. That is, it is accrued. For INDEC’s Argentine Trade Exchange (ICA), last year sales abroad were recorded for US$77,934 million and purchases for US$63,184 million, with a jump in favor of US$14,750 million.
The similar data between what has been accrued and what has been liquidated, indicate that the productive machinery of Argentina was managed almost “cash” last year, with little commercial and short-term credit.
According to an analysis by the consulting firm LCG, the difference between the Exchange Balance and the ICA “is mainly driven by the settlements of the first half of the year.”
The report states that between January and June 2021, settlements for INDEC were US$6,773 million against US$10,561 million for the BCRA.
In the second semester the values were inverted. They entered US$3,256 million less “driven by the increase in the exchange rate gap, which led to an increase in settlements of import payments while discouraging export settlements,” says LCG
On the other hand, according to official data, in 2021 the Foreign Exchange Current Account closed 2021 with a total of US$5,577 million, equivalent to 1.2% of GDP. This is a significant improvement compared to 2020 when only a positive balance of US$320 million remained.
As indicated by LCG, the instability in the foreign exchange market has cost the BCRA reserves of US$6.5 billion since September, without taking into account Treasury debt payments with the market or with organizations.
“Even with a first understanding with the IMF, we understand that this contractionary dynamic will be sustained in the immediate future, especially due to the negative seasonality of the harvest settlement in the first months of the year,” says the consultant.
Apart from this, the report infers that the entity led by Miguel Pesce will continue with the policy of controls to prevent foreign currency from leaving and thus prevent it from affecting the recovery of activity.
The report anticipates that Argentine foreign trade will continue to be handled “in cash”. “We expect that during 2022 imports will depend almost entirely on export settlements, which we hope will be lower than those of 2021,” the report states.
On the other hand, the recovery of international reserves will be practically conditional on the signing of the agreement with the IMF, which would allow Argentina to recover the payments it made in 2020 and 2021, some US$4.5 billion.