Property Futures

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Argentina protects its non-renewable resource

News: Argentina limits land purchases to foreigners.

A new law passed by the Chamber of Deputies in the legislative halls of Argentina has set a limit for the sale of agricultural land to foreign buyers at 1,000 hectares.

The controversial law has also limited the permissible area of total land in the country that can be owned by foreigners to 15%. Advocates of the new law say its purpose is for holding strategic and non-renewable land for Argentines. Whatever the reasons, the law has also drawn fire from opposition lawmakers.


Supporter for the new law

Lawmakers supporting the new law claim that it is in the national interest; it is devoid of any discriminatory undertones and is in line with overall national policy and direction.


Factual support has come from different quarters including views that:

  • Argentina is a future force to be reckoned with in the areas of food production and renewable energy.
  • The new law is fair and non-discriminatory since it makes an exception of foreigners who have married Argentines or have lived in the country as permanent residents for over 10 years.
  • There is tangible evidence to show that foreigners have been able to own land in Argentina. Prime examples have been Douglas Tompkins and Ted Turner from the United States; Joe Lewis, who owns the Hard Rock Café, comes from Britain, and the Benetton brothers hail from Italy.
  • The new law will not contradict the Bilateral Investments Treaties which Argentina has signed. The view comes from Luis Basterra, President of the Agriculture Commission, who has based his views on the premise that land in Argentina is not only regarded as an investment asset but also as a non-renewable natural resource, further asserting that the law would not have any retrospective impacts. By this he meant that land already in the hands of foreigners would not be re-possessed even if they exceeded the new parameters.
  • In actual fact and in accord with a report recently released by the FAO 10% of land in Argentina are in the hands of foreign owners. The figure falls well within the new national limit of 15%.


Opposition forces against it

The main objection has come from opposing politicians with purely political motives.

Opposing views include:

  • Criticisms leveled against government for advertising ‘false nationalism’ that would jeopardiZe foreign investments.
  • The extreme views of congressman Ricardo Burvaile, who claimed the new law was ‘xenophobic’ in essence and criticized the government for not being able to distinguish between sovereignty and the connotations of real-estate enterprise.


Whatever the motives are for introducing the new law, it is apparent that the only opposing view resounds from lawmakers on the opposite side of the government bench. Locals are contented that land is being protected on their behalf. Foreign investors are assured of 1,000 hectares of land space to fulfill their ambitions, not to mention what can happen if they decided to stay permanently in the country.


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