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Inflation Nation
Argentina Declares War on Amazon, Ebay

Economic buffoonery continues in Argentina, as the sinking government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner now requires consumers who make online purchases from foreign websites to produce a written declaration at a customs office, and then to pay a 50 percent tax on the items. Every. Single. Time.

It won’t surprise anyone to learn that picking up your overtaxed purchase at a customs office rather than having it delivered to your home is a process that takes several hours, and the inconvenience is generating much anger and frustration. BBC News reports:

Individuals are allowed to buy items up to the value of $25 (£15) from abroad tax free every year, but it has been hard for custom officials to keep accurate records of consumers’ transactions. Once the $25 level is reached, online shoppers in Argentina need to pay a 50% tax on each item bought from international websites.

The government tightened the restrictions later on Wednesday limiting tax-free purchases to two a year.

One resident of Buenos Aires, who gave his name as Martin, described the tax as “crazy. . . . I lose half a day’s work, which is unacceptable.”

Like Argentina’s recent 35 percent tariff on foreign credit card transactions, and all the various currency controls President Fernández has introduced since 2011, this latest effort is unlikely to stop the country’s reserves from drying up. It is more than likely, however, to create plenty of backlash.

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  • bigfire

    I’d be surprised if there isn’t already a thriving marketplace in Chile purely to service Argentinian to exchange actual goods for hard currency. Lets say transporting dollars for grain. The current Peronist government have export control, currency control, that basically guarantee the need for black market exchanges.

    • Kavanna

      Close: it’s Uruguay, not Chile, that is the main beneficiary of the lunacy going on next door in Argentina. See, e.g.,

      • bigfire

        Well, someone somewhere is making money off the stupidity of that government. And in Venezuela, the prime black market trading partner is Columbia.

      • Andrew Allison

        It’s a couple of hours from Uruguay (a much under-appreciated country, BTW) to Buenos Aires, and the last time I took the trip, there was no customs inspection to speak of. Argentina is in another of its periodic near-death experiences. It’s hard to believe that before WWII it was the sixth largest economy in the world; a lesson which California, and the US in general might to well to study.

        • John Stephens

          The only ones studying President Kirchner in the US are the ones who want to imitate her. Economy be damned, she wins elections.

          • bigfire

            Democracy is fine until voter realized that they can vote in infinite amount of benefit by stealing from the others. Argentina voters realize that 70 years ago. We’ve been doing the same since the 70s.

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