The first eight months of 2020 result in an 11.8% drop in exports, and a more pronounced 23.8% reduction in imports, only primary products had a positive variation of 10.2%, in a context of extreme scarcity of foreign currency. Exports reached $4.94 billion and imports $3.5 billion. The commercial exchange (exports plus imports) decreased by 15.3% concerning the same period of the previous year. A surplus of $1.44 billion is not good news in this context of the economy in a deep recession. If it grows again, that surplus will reduce rapidly. The bad news added to the data of the fall of the GDP and employment in Argentina.
The costs of industrial inputs grew between 10% and 50% in dollars, according to the different sectors, affected by the drop in supply and by the coverage against devaluation pressures. A report by the Argentine Industrial Pymes group (IPA) indicates that the most affected products are plastics and steel used by manufacturers of household appliances and materials for the automotive industry. The deterioration of the purchasing power of customers caused by the exchange rate instability is of concern because it ends up affecting demand.
According to INDEC, half of the people employed in Q2 2020, received a monthly amount of up to 27,000 pesos ($355), while the average income of those occupied was 31,868 pesos ($420). Statistics show that the labour income obtained by the population increased nominally by 15% concerning the second quarter of 2019; below inflation, with a drop of almost 20% in real terms. It anticipates a sharp increase in poverty and indigence levels. Also, social income inequality has widened.
Due to the fall in the population's income, especially those with fewer resources, poverty will reach 46% of the urban population in the second quarter of the year. This figure projects to the entire country, including the rural community, which is 20.8 million people who lived with incomes below the poverty line.
Argentina's biodiesel cluster, which generated exports of more than $1.2 billion in 2017, faces the last quarter of the year with a worrying projection: it estimates that it will produce 1.4 million tons in 2020, the lowest figure in ten years, affected by the fall in exports due to the pandemic and the freezing of the formula to update the price of biofuel in the domestic market. The situation has complicated SMEs and large companies; the domestic market shows a fall of 33% and exports a fall of 36% compared to 2019.