On 23 December 2019 a 30% tax on services hired abroad by travel agencies located in Argentina was introduced. The fact that the new tax applied the day after its introduction created chaos for air companies as non-compliance can trigger fines with interest. The Argentine Tax Authority recently introduced a resolution to address the lack of clarity surrounding the collection of the new tax, but it will take time for carriers to implement the measures required to comply with the new regulations.
The Immigration Authority (DNM) repeatedly imposes substantial fines on carriers. Despite the fact that in many cases these fines have been wrongly imposed, airlines must pay any outstanding fines in order to file a judicial complaint against the DNM, so the fines are widely viewed as another cost of operating in Argentina. That said, a number of airlines have recently challenged the DNM's fines and the courts have given a clear sign that, even with the above difficulties, it is worth challenging this legal loophole.
In a recent Federal Civil and Commercial Court 2 case, the plaintiffs filed a complaint for damages for a rescheduled flight after a mandatory mediation hearing ended without a settlement. However, the court found that the change of flight schedule had complied with civil aviation and consumer rules. As a result, it rejected the claim and imposed legal costs on the losing party.
It is not unusual for immigration authorities to pursue airlines for infringements of the passenger documentation requirements which travellers must meet in order to enter a country. Argentina is no exception and the Immigration Authority (DNM) has been incentivised to detect passenger documentation infringements and collect fines from air carriers. However, a number of recent decisions regarding the DNM's imposition of fines in such cases could mark a turning point with regard to this issue.
The Federal Court recently heard a case in which two passengers claimed damages from Aeromexico after they had been ordered to disembark an aircraft for being disruptive. The case provides an insight into the question of whether consumer protection law trumps flight security concerns.
The government recently published Decree 872/2018, ordering the Secretariat of Energy to launch the first round of international competitive bidding for offshore exploration permits. Given Argentina's size and the potential for the discovery of new energy sources, the government aims to exploit its resources through effective investment in seismic surveys and hydrocarbon explorations in partnership with major oil and gas companies.
The Ministry of Energy and Mining recently issued Resolution 197/2018, which details the requirements and procedures relating to obtaining reconnaissance permits and the commercial use of data obtained during reconnaissance activities along the Argentine Continental Shelf. Although the Ministry of Energy and Mining has already granted a number of offshore exploration licences, significant potential for offshore basin exploitation remains.
This update has been removed at the request of the authors.
The protection provided under industrial property law to commercial signs registered with the National Institute of Industrial Property is more effective than that offered by unfair competition law. It is therefore worth questioning whether unfair competition law exercises any function with regard to the protection of registered signs. There may be sectors in which the protection of a rights holder's interest requires the combined use of IP and competition law.
Since the Trademark Law reserves the right to use a trademark for the mark's owner, legal scholars in Argentina have long debated whether the use of trademarks in comparative advertising is permitted. With the recent approval of Emergency Decree 274/2019, legislation has, for the first time, addressed comparative advertising in Argentina in a detailed and systematic manner and established when it is allowed.
Emergency Decree 274/2019 has established a comprehensive system for regulating unfair competition. Many practices punished by the new unfair competition rules affect IP rights. Further, the new legislation establishes a series of provisions that are highly valued in the IP field, including the detailed regulation of comparative advertising and provisions referring to names of origin and trade secrets.
Law 25,163/1999 and Law 25,380/2000 govern appellations of origin in Argentina for wines and wine-based spirits as well as agricultural and food products, respectively. The Ministry of Production and Labour recently acknowledged a new appellation of origin for a sweet quince paste produced in San Juan that is part of the local culinary tradition and whose characteristics derive from the manufacturing process and the quality of the quinces produced in the province.
The terms 'corporate name', 'trade name' and 'designation' are frequently used without distinction in commerce and business. However, these expressions must be clearly distinguished. While corporate names distinguish corporations and their use and protection are based on the Companies Law, designations are protected under the Law on Trademarks.
The question of whether foreign-flagged ships involved in international trade are subject to value added tax (VAT) when supplying bunkers in Argentina is frequently posed. If a vessel is supplied bunkers in one Argentine port and subsequently calls to another Argentine port before proceeding overseas, this is generally considered to be cabotage and is therefore subject to VAT.
Local authorities have increasingly exercised their power to enforce local regulations concerning waste disposal and broadened the responsibility of vessels in this regard. It has become common practice for local authorities to request the compulsory discharge of waste from vessels, even if this action appears to go against commonly accepted international law that is binding in Argentina.
Ships calling at ports on the Parana river are increasingly being asked to submit a pest control certificate to the Health Authority. Failure to comply with this request could require the ship to be fumigated. However, this can be avoided if a ship can prove that it has been fumigated by a competent authority or if it has been exempted from such operation in the past six months and obtained a certificate from the health authorities of a port officially authorised for this purpose.
Under the new Regulation 693-E/2017, the system for checking the cargo-worthiness of holds and tanks of ships and barges for the export of grains and their products and by-products will be compulsorily applied to all ships. In terms of compliance, ships that meet industrial standards should face no major issues and any attempt from surveyors or inspectors to reject such a ship could be challenged.
The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development recently issued Regulation 85-E/2017, under which vessels calling at Argentine ports must apply a chlorination process to their ballast water tanks to prevent the introduction of invasive aquatic species. However, the regulation posits only that chlorination must be done on arrival and does not clarify whether it should be conducted by the crew or a local entity. This has resulted in several operational issues.