The expansion of the Internet as a platform for retailers, resulting in increased choice for consumers -- as shopping makes the transition from a local to a global platform -- has proved to be an economic driver worldwide. However, for some countries like Argentina, Web-based shopping represents financial problems.
The country has introduced new restrictions, perhaps the first of its kind, for citizens who wish to buy products online rather than hitting local stores. Anyone who chooses to buy items via international means is now required to sign a declaration and show products at customs, where purchases must now be collected every time.
Why? To try and keep hard currencies in the country, where reserves dropped by 30 percent last year alone.
As noted by the BBC, the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has imposed a number of changes and limits on transactions involving foreign currency over the last few years. For example, anything bought through eBay or Amazon already has to be collected from customs offices rather than arriving at home addresses. In addition, the government will only allow individuals to buy items worth up to $25 from abroad tax-free every year -- and then a tax rate of 50 percent is imposed.
On Wednesday, this restriction was tightened to only two purchases every 12 months. While Argentina's government hopes these changes will control inflation and declarations will make it easier to track online purchases, one citizen told the BBC the rules were "crazy," and due to long queues in the customs office, he loses "half a day's work" every time a package has to be collected -- which, in turn, can only hurt the economy.
Despite restrictions, Argentina's reserves are at their lowest for eight years, and now account for less than $30 billion in currency.