Located in the southern half of South America, the Argentine Republic shipped US$61.6 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a -10% decline since 2014 but a 5.4% uptick from 2017 to 2018.
From a continental perspective, about a third of Argentine exports by value are delivered to fellow Latin American (excluding Mexico) and Caribbean countries, while over one quarter is sold to Asian importers. Argentina ships another 17.6% worth of goods to Europe. Smaller percentages are sold to North American nations at 6.8% compared to 7.1% for African importers.
Given Argentina’s population of 44.7 million people, its total $61.6 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $1,400 for every resident in the South American country.
In macroeconomic terms, Argentina’s total exported goods represent 6.7% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($915.1 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 6.7% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 7.2% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Argentina’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Argentina also provided $14.1 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 1.5% of GDP in PPP.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Argentina’s unemployment rate was 10.1% at March 2019 up from 9.1% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.
Argentina’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Argentine global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Argentina.
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: US$9.8 billion (16% of total exports)
- Cereals: $7.54 billion (12.2%)
- Vehicles: $7.38 billion (12%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $4 billion (6.4%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $2.9 billion (4.8%)
- Meat: $2.5 billion (4.1%)
- Gems, precious metals: $2.5 billion (4.1%)
- Fish: $2.1 billion (3.4%)
- Oil seeds: $1.8 billion (2.9%)
- Other chemical goods: $1.7 billion (2.7%)
Argentina’s top 10 exports were over two-thirds (68.6%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing among Argentina’s top export categories, up 80.6% from 2017 to 2018 propelled by higher crude oil sales on international markets. In second place was the meat category via its 37.9% gain trailed by vehicles’ 27.9% improvement and the 8.3% year-over-year improvement for exported fish.
Leading the decliners was oil seeds (down -43.6%).
At the four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Argentina’s number one export product is soya bean oilcake and other solid residues. In second place was shipments of corn trailed by exported trucks, soya bean oil, wheat, gold, soya beans, crustaceans including lobsters, crude oil, frozen beef and cars.
The following types of Argentine product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus.
Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: US$9.8 billion (Up by 0.2% since 2017)
- Cereals: $7.5 billion (Up by 8.2%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $3.9 billion (Down by -18.9%)
- Gems, precious metals: $2.4 billion (Down by -1.2%)
- Meat: $2.4 billion (Up by 38.4%)
- Fish: $2 billion (Up by 9.1%)
- Vegetable/fruit/nut preparations: $1 billion (Up by 6.1%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $978.1 million (Up by 31.6%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $780.8 million (Up by 8.6%)
- Fruits, nuts: $681 million (Up by 31.2%)
Argentina has highly positive net exports in the international trade of food industry waste products and animal feed. In turn, these cashflows indicate Argentina’s strong competitive advantages under the food industry waste and animal fodder category.
Argentina posted an overall -$3.9 billion trade deficit for 2018, down -54.4% from -$8.5 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Argentina that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Argentina’s goods trail Argentine importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$8.2 billion (Down by -6.8% since 2017)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$7.7 billion (Down by -8.9%)
- Vehicles: -$3.6 billion (Down by -51.3%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$3.3 billion (Down by -13%)
- Organic chemicals: -$1.9 billion (Up by 4.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$1.7 billion (Up by 0.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$1.6 billion (Down by -4.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.3 billion (Down by -5.7%)
- Fertilizers: -$1.1 billion (Up by 53.7%)
- Iron, steel: -$828.8 million (Down by -26.2%)
Argentina has highly negative net exports and therefore a deep international trade deficit under the machinery including computers category.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Argentina’s competitive disadvantages in the international machinery market, but also represent key opportunities for Argentina to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Argentine Export Companies
Not one of Argentina’s corporations ranks among Forbes’ Global 2000.
Wikipedia does list relatively smaller exporters from Argentina. Selected examples are shown below:
- Al Este (wine)
- Aluar (aluminum)
- Bridas Corporation (oil, gas)
- Bunge Limited (grains, oilseed)
- Grupo Arcor (chocolates, cookies, ice cream)
- La Serenísima (dairy products)
- Loma Negra (cement)
- SanCor (dairy products)
- Transportadora de Gas del Sur (natural gas)
- Zanella (motorcycles)
Argentina’s capital city is Buenos Aires.
See also Argentina’s Top Trading Partners, Argentina’s Top 10 Imports and Top South American Export Countries
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 13, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 29, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on August 13, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 13, 2019
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 13, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 29, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Argentina. Accessed on February 13, 2019
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 29, 2019