Buenos Aires — Argentina’s Economy Ministry, led by Sergio Massa, together with the Secretariat of the Knowledge Economy, led by Ariel Sujarchuk, are working on a plan to launch a so-called ‘tech dollar’, with plans to be formally announced on October 3, official sources told Bloomberg Línea.
The measure will imply a new relaxation of the foreign exchange laws in Argentina, after the recent experience of the so-called ‘soy dollar’, a temporary exchange rate introduced earlier this month designed to boost soybean exports, and was introduced following talks between the government and the agricultural export sector.
In addition, the government is evaluating new measures to encourage the liquidation of dollars in the official market by freelancers who export services abroad.
The so-called knowledge economy in 2021 earned $6.42 billion in exports for Argentina, accounting for 7.1% of total exports of goods and services, and which is made up of four productive chains: cultural industries, research and development, and software and IT services.
What is the ‘tech dollar’?
The regime will allow companies in the knowledge economy sector to be exempted from exchange on the free exchange market, i.e. at the official dollar rate, for up to 20% of the foreign currency that they receive as foreign direct investment.
In order to access this benefit, such investments,, which must be for at least $3 million, must be destined to infrastructure, capital goods and working capital.
This is part of the fine print of the bill, which also includes an incentive to incremental net exports, allowing access to 30% of the free availability of those dollars, which must be destined to the payment of salaries of employees.
The regime, focused on knowledge-economy companies, and which will be implemented by decree, will add another benefit: a one-time transfer of the tax credit bonus on employer contributions, exclusively for the companies registered in the regime, which carry out exports representing at least 70% of their annual turnover.
The ‘freelancer dollar’
Earlier this year, when Massa was still president of the Chamber of Deputies and the Knowledge Economy Secretariat was a sub-secretariat of the Ministry of Product Development, headed by Matías Kulfas, a regime focused on freelancers who export services was introduced, and which permitted the entry of up to $1,000 per month.
Sujarchuk and Massa are now working on a new scheme aimed at professionals who invoice their knowledge-based services abroad, and aimed at people who participate in e-sports competitions at a professional level.
It is estimated that in 2021, $1.8 billion entered this sector through informal, undeclared channels.
The initiative is still under analysis, but will be presented via a bill and would raise the availability of income without official liquidation from $12,000 to U30,000 per year, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified.
In this way, the government seeks to increase the collection of foreign currency for non-registered export services, and includes the exchange benefit of not liquidating the foreign currency.