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Argentina surprises, bans sales of iPhone, Blackberry

updated 06:00 pm EST, Tue December 27, 2011

Move is intended to force local production

In a surprise move, the government of Argentina has "temporarily" blocked the sales of certain foreign-made electronics, including the iPhone and the Blackberry lines of smartphones, in an effort to help stabilize the country's ailing economy, Manuals.ws reports. Between them, the two companies' products make up 60 percent of the smartphone market in Argentina. Other handset makers (such as Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola, LG and Samsung) have avoided the ban by opening plants in the country.

The maneuver follows a law that added a 20.48 percent tax (on top of the normal 21 percent sales tax) on imported electronic devices that had no "presence" in Argentina. In March, the government upped the pressure on Apple and RIM by revoking "automatic" import license of some smartphones, which forced Apple and RIM to wait 60 to 180 days for Customs Authority approval for any new devices.

Despite claims that the ban is meant to slow rising inflation and strengthen the Argentinian peso against the US dollar, both Apple and RIM could avoid the penalties by building a manufacturing plant or partnering with an existing company to manufacture phones in the country, meaning the measures effectively amount to blackmail. RIM is said to be actively seeking a partner, but there are no signs that Apple has plans to do the same.

The government says the ban will be lifted once the economy stabilizes, but some of the measures (such as the extra tax) have been in place since 2009. The country's GDP has been slowing due to large government subsidies for agricultural goods despite decreasing demand. In reaction, authorities have imposed large tariffs and other penalties meant to make imported goods more expensive compared to locally-produced items. Similar but smaller-scale moves are common in most other countries, including the United States, but rarely escalate to the point of an outright ban.

While the ban could be good news for competing handset makers in the Argentine market, the move is also likely to create a "black market" for iPhones and some Blackberry models. While Argentinian carriers are barred from selling the devices, there's been no indication that the companies can't offer service for "third party" phones. Apple's Argentinian page for the iPhone is currently still available, and the company has recently introduced a full iTunes Store and iTunes Match in Argentina. [via Manuals.ws]




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. slapppy

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Fishy

    Seems fishy and illegal to me.

  1. siromega

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +4

    RIM opened a factory in Oct/Nov

    Apple and HTC are the only companies not to have local factories at this point.

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +7

    Violation

    This is, of course, a violation of G.A.T.T., the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. We should all start boycotting Argentinian goods because if such actions are tolerated, it threatens global commerce. This is an utterly stupid act by a thoroughly stupid, despotic administration.

  1. chas_m

    Joined:

    +8

    Sorry, Argentina

    Apple can't build a factory in EVERY COUNTRY where the iPhone is sold, which is what would eventually be demanded if your blackmail were to succeed. I imagine they will file a ITC complaint, or just allow the black market to naturally "correct" this action.

  1. jarod

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    BS country

    Enough said.

  1. Orbifold

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    More jokes for Brazilians

    This ones old but typical, "an Italian who speaks Spanish and thinks he's an Englishman"

  1. aardman

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +5

    No surprise.

    What else do you expect from one of the few countries that openly embraced fascism? [And provided a safe haven for n*** war criminals?]

    In the early 20th century, Argentina was thought to be one of the few countries who were poised to break into the ranks of the advanced industrial economies. Instead it got stuck in the third world. Mainly because of corruption where favored families were accorded state protection of their businesses no matter how backward or inefficient. I wouldn't be surprised if this ban on smartphone imports was put in place at the behest of a powerful individual who wanted to muscle in on the profits that RIM and Apple were making.

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +4

    Falklands...

    Heard the other day they want to take on England again. Idiot politicians. Maybe they are the cousins of the ones we have up here.

  1. Jeff75

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -5

    Actually,

    Apple should spread the wealth and build more factories outside of China. How about supporting the SALE of Apple products by raising the standard of living where most are sold - in the US. C'mon, Apple, build some factories in the US and employ American citizens. China is a horrible dictatorship that is probably the single most potent threat to the west. They've gained power through child labor, sweatshop labor, and contaminating the water & air. In short - China has prospered by making things in ways that would be illegal in nations with ANY ethical standards. Apple should pull out of China. It's just the right thing to do. See how I put my money where my mouth is when it comes to "family values" ?
    OK - time for all the excuses about why it's OK to employ child and sweatshop labor... [Answer: greed]

  1. JDCov

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +8

    Socialist-Populist Economics

    President Kirchner is from the Peronist Justicialist party, and from the left wing of that. She has placed the country firmly in the Hugo Chavez camp. Argentina's financial woes are tied to bad economic policies, a falling GDP, inflation, corruption and a host of others.

    This is just typical blame shifting. According to the ideologues, socialist economics must work. So if something goes wrong it can not be the policies and must be something else, like foreign technology. This is not the only thing they are doing to try to shift the focus.

    Socialist-populist economics are impossible to sustain for more than a short time, though they can give something that looks like positive results in the short run. Just take a look at every place they have been tried.

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