Argentina's President-Elect Said to Consider Suspending Soybean Tax

  • Presidential candidate seeks $8 billion in farmers' sales
  • Final decision to be made after Dec. 10, two advisers say

Argentina’s president-elect, Mauricio Macri, is considering a 90-day window of no export taxes on soybeans in a bid to spur sales from farmers stockpiling some $8 billion in oilseeds, two people with knowledge of the plan said.

Export taxes on soybeans are currently 35 percent. The revenue loss from suspending the tariff may be offset by an influx of dollars into Central Bank reserves, which on Friday finished at $25.8 billion, the lowest since 2006, the first person said, asking not to be identified as talks among Macri’s economic advisers are private.

The 90-day window is one of the proposals being considered, said the second person aware of the plan. It’s being discussed by Macri’s financial team and lacks backing from the agriculture team, as it may hurt oil crushers and exporters while benefiting producers and the Central Bank. 

At a press conference Monday, Macri didn’t respond when asked about lifting the tariff temporarily.

There will be talks with exporters this week, a person who is aware of the talks said.

Exporters are open to new ideas, a person from the exporters group said, asking not to be identified as the group wouldn’t comment on the proposal until seeing it on paper.

Currency Changes?

The policy will be decided on Dec. 10, as only on that day will Macri know with certainty how much money the Central Bank has, the second person said. If approved, the window would close once the new soybean crop arrives in March. That crop would pay exports taxes of 30 percent.

“The plan will be successful if farmers are allowed to buy dollars after selling their crops.” Gabriel De Raedemaker, vice president of the Argentine Rural Confederation, said from the town of Oliva in Cordoba province. “A few will feel tempted to sell just to get pesos under a threat of devaluation.”

Macri has also vowed to lift currency controls as soon as he takes office Dec. 10, a move that investors see leading to a devaluation of as much as 35 percent for the peso, which would further help farmers trying to sell abroad.

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