by Esteban Ropolo
For the last few years,
Argentina's government has been serially violating its commitments to a rules
based multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization (WTO). The
recently introduced non-automatic licensing regime applicable to all final
imports (as opposed to temporary) into the country threatens importers with
total extinction. The main objective of these measures is to protect the
country's trade surplus, the only source of foreign exchange in a country cut
off from the international credit markets since the 2001 default of its foreign
General Description of the Licensing Regime
On 10 January 2012, the Argentine tax authorities (AFIP) passed General
Resolution No. 3252/2012 (the Resolution). This Resolution requires importers
to file an Advance Import Affidavit (DJAI) prior to the definitive importation
of any type of goods. The DJAI shall be analyzed by the tax authorities and by
any other governmental agency that may adhere to the system. The import is permitted
only once the tax authority or relevant agency approves the DJAI. The
Resolution applies to all types of products definitively imported into the
country from 1 February 2012.
Pursuant to the Resolution, importers must file a DJAI (through AFIP's website)
before issuing a purchase order or similar document. AFIP will inform importers
online about the status of their petition. If applicable, the AFIP will
identify the reasons for any objections made and the governmental agencies
where importers can remedy those objections. Finally, importers must enter the
DJAI number in AFIP's Maria Information System (SIM) as part of the customs
clearance process of the goods. The customs clearance process will be
automatically stopped if such number is not entered.
On 23 January 2012, AFIP issued Resolution 3255 further regulating the DJAI
process. The main points contained in Resolution 3255 are:
a) The agencies that have adhered to the system have a 72-hour period to
announce any queries they might have. This period is counted from the date the
importer files the DJAI. The period may be extended up to ten calendar days in
"those cases in which the specific activities of the agency in charge so
requests," as expressly stated in the General Resolution. Once the designated
time periods have elapsed with no queries, the import operation may continue.
Otherwise, the queries shall be handled by the importer with the agency that
raised them. It is worth mentioning that the Internal Commerce Secretariat (the
Secretariat), the first agency that has adhered to the system, has set itself a
15 working day period to raise any queries (as per Resolution SCI 1/12). This
15-day period might be deemed abrogated by General Resolution 3255, but this
issue is far from clear.
b) The data to be supplied by the importer at the time of filing the
corresponding import declaration are: (i) tax ID (CUIT) number; (ii) FOB value
and foreign currency involved; (iii) tariff item number of the goods to be
imported; (iv) type and quantity of goods; (v) condition of the goods; (vi)
country of origin; and (vii) country of provenance.
c) The DJAI shall be valid for 180 days from the date of issuance, and this
period may be extended.
d) At the time of filing the DJAI request, the importer will be informed of the
agencies that will take part in the approval process.
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Esteban Ropolo is
a partner with Baker & McKenzie in Buenos Aires. He practices foreign
trade, antitrust, and mergers and acquisitions. Before joining private
practice, Mr. Ropolo taught political economy and foreign trade law at several
universities in Argentina. He has authored a book on competition law and
written extensively in his fields of practice.