Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Argentine peso depreciated by a massive -378% against the US dollar since 2016 and deteriorated by -46.5% from 2019 to 2020. Argentina’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
The latest available country-specific data from 2019 shows that 69.7% of products exported from Argentina were bought by importers in: Brazil (20.4% of the global total), Australia (12.2%), China (9.7%), United States (4.4%), Vietnam (4.2%), Chile (4.1%), India (2.8%), Netherlands (2.5%), Indonesia (2.4%), Switzerland (also 2.4%), Algeria (2.3%) and Peru (2.2%).
From a continental perspective, 31.7% of Argentina’s exports by value were delivered to fellow Latin American countries excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, while 29.6% were sold to importers in Asia. Another 14% worth of goods went to Europe with 12.4% going to Oceania led by Australia. Smaller percentages were consumed by buyers in Africa (6.5%) and North America (5.7%).
Given Argentina’s population of 45.4 million people, its total $65.1 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $1,200 for every resident in the South American country.
Argentina’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Argentine global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Argentina.
- Cereals: US$8.9 billion (16.2% of total exports)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $8.5 billion (15.4%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $4.8 billion (8.7%)
- Oil seeds: $3.4 billion (6.2%)
- Meat: $3.3 billion (6%)
- Vehicles: $3.3 billion (6%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $2.1 billion (3.8%)
- Gems, precious metals: $2 billion (3.6%)
- Fish: $1.6 billion (3%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $1.1 billion (2%)
Argentina’s top 10 exports were over two-thirds (71%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Dairy, eggs and honey was the leading grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 22.6% from 2019 to 2020. The only product category to improve export sales was animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes via a 1.5% gain.
The leading decliner among Argentina’s top 10 export categories was vehicles thanks to it -43.4% drop year over year.
Argentina earned an overall $12.5 billion trade surplus for 2020, down by -22% from $16 billion in black ink one year earlier.
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.
- Cereals: US$8.9 billion (Down by -5.4% since 2019)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $8.4 billion (Down by -11.1%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $4.7 billion (Up by 1.5%)
- Meat: $3.2 billion (Down by -13.2%)
- Oil seeds: $2.4 billion (Reversing an -$815.5 million deficit)
- Fish: $1.6 billion (Down by -9%)
- Oil seeds: $1.3 billion (Down by -44.3%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: $1.1 billion (Up by 24.6%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $774 million (Down by -4.2%)
- Vegetables: $637.4 million (Up by 3.2%)
Argentina has highly positive net exports in the international trade of cereals, notably corn, wheat, barley and rice. In turn, these cashflows indicate Argentina’s strong competitive advantages under the cereals category.
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$5.7 billion (Down by -11.6% since 2019)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$4.7 billion (Down by -25.4%)
- Organic chemicals: -$2.4 billion (Up by 15%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.7 billion (Up by 25.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$1.5 billion (Up by 8.7%)
- Vehicles: -$1.3 billion (Down by -867.2%)
- Fertilizers: -$1.1 billion (Up by 11.1%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$1.1 billion (Down by -14.2%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: -$656.4 million (Up by 14.3%)
- Iron, steel: -$642.9 million (Up by 18.3%)
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 global 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)
In macroeconomic terms, Argentina’s total exported goods represent 5.9% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($924.5 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 5.9% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 7.2% for 2019. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Argentina’s total economic performance albeit based on a tiny timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Argentina’s unemployment rate was 11.7% at September 2020, up from and average 9.2% one year earlier according to the International Monetary Fund.
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
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 2, 2021
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 2, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 2, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 2, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 2, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 2, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 2, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Argentina. Accessed on March 2, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 2, 2021