Selling to the Government
Procurement regulations as set forth by Decree 1023/01, apply to all federal public agencies (including autonomous or decentralized institutions) but exclude federal banks. According to General Resolution 6/2021, government procurement of less than AR$432,000 can be done via direct purchase. Purchases between AR$432,000 and AR$13,500,000 generally require competition, and purchases over that amount generally require an open public tender.
To participate in federal government procurement tenders, companies need to be registered with the National Public Administration Contracting System, with a few exceptions. The federal public procurement portal Compr.Ar publishes and manages the electronic procurement processes of goods and services. Contrat.Ar is the electronic system for the management of public work contracts.
More information and open tenders can be found on the website of the National Contracting Office (Oficina Nacional de Contrataciones, ONC). Terms of public tenders must also be published in the Official Bulletin and the publications of supplier associations.
Provinces conduct their procurement processes and most provincial governments have their own portals which list specific procurement information. A prominent NGO that follows national, provincial, and municipal procurements is the Unión Argentina de Proveedores del Estado (UAPE). UAPE has a database of government procurements.
As initially provided by Decree 260/2020 (and updates), under the Covid-19 Sanitary Emergency Status (in force until December 2022, and possibly, to be extended), the government has the authority to make direct purchases of products and services related to coping with the pandemic.
Procurement from Local Companies (“Buy Local” Regime)
In September 2018, Executive Order 800/2018 and the Secretary of Industry’s Resolution 91/2018 regulated Law 27437 implementing a buy local program, “Buy Argentine.” This regime grants preference to domestic goods, provides for greater participation of local SMEs in infrastructure projects, and favors local supplier development in strategic sectors and productive investment.
The National Program to Develop Suppliers (PRODEPRO) through Resolution 112/2020 aims to develop local suppliers in strategic sectors and to connect them with a global value chain to improve their competitiveness and incorporate new technologies.
Preferences by Sector
Goods: Preference is given to domestic goods. The origin of the goods is determined by the nature/composition of the goods themselves and not based on the nationality or ownership of the manufacturing company. Goods containing imported parts shall be considered domestically produced when the value of the imported parts is no more than 40 percent of the sales value of the finished good, or when the imported product undergoes substantial in-country transformation or processing such that the MERCOSUR tariff classification code of the transformed item differs from that of the imported part.
Services: Preference will be given to bids submitted by a domestic company or consultant.
Public Works: Preference will be given to domestic materials and to domestic services. (i.e., project design, management, and construction services) as defined above.
Preferential margins for domestic goods are 15 percent in the case of micro and small and medium-sized (SMEs) firms, and 8 percent for large companies in purchases, according to the calculation criteria to be defined by the corresponding authority. Infrastructure projects should include local SMEs in up to 20 percent of the tender value or compensate with local investment, research and development, or transfer of technology.
As of June 2022, the Argentine Congress is discussing a draft law to amend the Buy Argentine Regime to potentially increase the preference margin for local companies in public tenders submitted by local micro and SMEs to 20 percent, and those submitted by large companies to 15 percent.
When a bidder offers to supply foreign goods not available in country, he or she must guarantee “nationalization” of the goods by depositing a bond on behalf of the contracting party. In addition, the Secretariat of Industry will issue a certificate verifying the value of the goods to be purchased abroad at the request of the contracting party within 96 hours of receiving said request. To obtain the Certificate of Verification (certificado de verificación, CDV), the contracting party must submit a sworn statement declaring (1) that it has complied with the “Compre Argentino” regime, (2) the end price or value of the foreign goods, and (3) that said price or value is lower than that of domestic goods offered or that no domestic goods were offered.
The National Office of Buy Argentine and Supplier Development (Dirección Nacional de Compre Argentino y Programa de Desarrollo de Proveedores), under the Ministry of Productive Development, is the authority in charge of overseeing the regime and applying relevant sanctions. Note: Argentina is not a signatory to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement but is an observer of the WTO Committee on Government Procurement.
U.S. Government Advocacy Center
U.S. companies bidding on government tenders may also qualify for U.S. Government advocacy. A unit of the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, the Advocacy Center coordinates U.S. Government interagency advocacy efforts on behalf of U.S. exporters bidding on public sector contracts with international government agencies. Advocacy assistance can take many forms but often involves the U.S. Embassy or other U.S. Government agency officials leveling the playing field by advocating for potential U.S. suppliers to foreign government officials. For additional information contact U.S. Commercial Service Buenos Aires at Office.Buenosaires@trade.gov
Multilateral Development Banks and Financing Government Sales
Price, payment terms, and financing can be a significant factor in winning a government contract. Many governments finance public works projects through borrowing from multilateral development banks (MDB). A helpful guide for working with MDBs is the Guide to Doing Business with the Multilateral Development Banks. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) has a Foreign Commercial Service Officer stationed at each of the five different MDBs. Learn more by contacting the Commercial Liaison to the Inter-American Development Bank or the World Bank.