With 2018 GDP approaching $630 billion, Argentina is one of the largest economies in Latin America, per the World Bank. There’s plenty of opportunity here for outside entrepreneurs and investors who know where to look.
Doing business in Argentina is no walk in the park, of course. The country has seen its share of political and economic ups and downs, some of which you’ll see described in greater detail below. Uncertainty lingers to this day, despite aggressive efforts to tamp down corruption and open up key sectors of the economy.
If you’re considering doing business in Argentina, or your employer plans to relocate you and your family to this beautiful part of South America, you’ll need to know a lot before you ever set foot here. Keep these pointers in mind, for starters.
- Launching a New Business Here Is an Arduous Process
First, the bad news: launching a new business in Argentina is not easy. TMF Group lays out a slew of hurdles for new businesses here, most of which apply for sui generis enterprises and new local subsidiaries. If your employer already has a business presence in Argentina, you’ll have an easier go when you arrive.
- Hierarchy Matters, to a Point
Don’t pay too much attention to prospective partners’ and clients’ org charts. Often, executive decision-making power is siloed, with each upper manager responsible for specific domain areas. According to Florida real estate investor Ralph Serrano, who’s done business extensively in Argentina, it’s crucial to determine precisely who’s responsible for what before you take a meeting.
- Business Is More Personal Than You Might Expect
In Argentina, small talk is a fixture of business meetings, particularly early on in the relationship. Moreover, supervisors’ relationships with their subordinates often verge on the familial; bear this in mind when working within prospective partners’ corporate bureaucracies.
- Calls > Emails
Whenever possible, pick up the phone and call your Argentinian contacts. Feel free to memorialize the conversation in a subsequent email afterward, but don’t fall into the North American habit of dashing off emails for every little thing — it can be a sign of disrespect.
- Don’t Schedule Too Far in Advance
Avoid scheduling meetings more than two or three weeks in advance, as they’re likely to be rescheduled anyway. This is frustrating for international business travelers flying in for a week or less, but it is what it is.
Know Before You Go
Doing business in Argentina is not for the faint of heart.
Outsiders often remark that they love visiting New York City, even if they could never live there. Argentina doesn’t have that problem: it’s a great place to visit and live, at least for those who respect its proud culture and learn the local language.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get ahead in Argentina. On the contrary: breaking into the Argentine business scene is a difficult prospect, particularly for entrepreneurs and professionals who’ve previously confined their business activities to North America. Without careful preparation and thorough advance knowledge, you’re unlikely to thrive in Buenos Aires, Cordoba, La Plata, or anywhere else in this far country.