f you had to define 2014 in numbers, Which would you highlight?: business volume, DJAI grants, imports, etc.?
If we talk about numbers, I would say that the permanent decline in machine imports into Argentina due to the handling of the Import's affidavit (DJAI´s) by the Secretary of Commerce. This year we are planning a 20% decline in comparison with 2013. However, although the numbers are discouraging, we have to add a 30% decline in 2013 compared to 2012, and another 70% drop in 2012 in comparison with 2011 (The DJAI was enacted in February 2011).What's more, the lack of a legal framework for enforcing the obtaining of DJAI's as well as the discretional handling of random searched by authorities to control the flow of foreign currency is what generates the permanent uncertainty for companies.
With regards to ASAP, the wide range of services offered in Argentina has enabled us to maintain our level of activity and continue offering top-level services to our customers. Besides, our offices in Colombia and Panama continue growing at a constant rate, which consolidates us as strategic partners for the companies in the sector that develop their activities in the region.
How was business this past year for ASAP in each of the markets and events in which you work for?
Our activity as customs agents in Argentina has been affected. However, we have generated new customers / businesses, as well as strengthened all other services (storage, international and local shipping, etc). We have also continued growing in Panama and Colombia. moving our offices in both markets-in Panama, we moved to Calle 50, near the hotel zone; and in Colombia, we have unified our offices and warehouse within the Bogota Free Trade Zone, which simplifies a lot the control and operation.
Considering your expertise and experience in foreign commerce and your knowledge about the Argentine market, What advice would you give to companies that have not entered this market yet? Even with import obstacles, is Argentina a profitable market? Why or why not?
That is a question that can have many answers, depending if we look at future with pessimism or with optimism. Being objective, I can point out that, historically, Argentina has been cyclical, so we have to wait for the end of this current cycle. The country cannot remain isolated. Going into an election year, we can expect that once the new government is in power, there will be a significant change with regard to imports, no matter the political nature of the future government. At the same time, I would recommend that companies do their best to remain in the market. A company cannot have short-term business plans. What's more, in this way, companies position themselves much better for when favorable times finally come around.
How do you think the industry will be in 2015?
I think it will be watching to see the result of the elections. In an individual country, where a change in government sees major changes in economic policies, 2015 will be a year of observation and “wait-and-seeing.”