chapter  2
Finance and changing trade patterns in developing countries
José María Fanelli and Saúl Keifman
ByThe Argentine case
Pages 25

Structural reforms, the creation of a customs union with Mercosur, and the renewal of capital inflows into Latin America profoundly changed the structure of incentives Argentine firms faced in the 1990s. One important consequence was a higher degree of heterogeneity in the performance of firms and sectors. The non-tradable sector was a privileged recipient of foreign funds as a result of the privatization process and the deregulation of foreign investment. Producers of tradable goods faced greater competition as well as new opportunities from Mercosur markets as well as the availability of inputs and investment goods at international prices. The changing environment affected profitability across and within industries in complex ways and obliged firms to restructure. Some firms adopted offensive strategies to restructure, taking advantage of new market opportunities, implementing organizational improvements and upgrading capital equipment. Other firms, however, followed purely defensive restructuring strategies, their principal objective being to ensure survival in a far more challenging environment. This chapter explores how the changes in the macroeconomic setting and the interactions between developments in trade and finance created winners and losers in Argentina’s recent past.