Foreignization and Industrial Economic Power in Argentina
Pablo Manzanelli and Martín Schorr

This evidence is indicative of the fact that in the post-convertibility era, there is a continued tendency towards a strong centralization of capital in Argentinean industry. In other words, the economic predominance of foreign capital among the leading firms has been strengthened in recent years by increasing their presence in the sector group. This is tightly linked to the de-nationalization of important local firms of leading manufacturing branches. Thus, the contribution of foreign filings in terms of redefining the profile of industrial specialization and international insertion is rather low, as well as its role in the increase of domestic productive capacity. This expresses the insufficiency and limitations of state policies, as well as the functionality of these policies with certain strategies used by foreign firms.13

What is certain is that in the era of post-convertibility, the foreignization of the leading manufacturing companies (and consequently the sector group) has not slowed down or reversed itself. The local selection of companies with the greatest growth potential, specifically in the international scenario (without expenses resulting from their generalized condition as oligopolies facing important reactivation of internal demand), denotes the presence of multinational strategies that see the possibility of consolidating themselves as the main portion of capital and economic predominance in the new macro and meso-economic context, with growing presence in external markets.

According to information presented in Table 4, the 59 multinational corporations that direct part of their sales towards international markets accounted for 65% of exports from the leading companies in 2009. This is equivalent to an increase of 29 foreign “exporting” firms, and nearly 35 percentage points in their presence in external sales among elite companies in comparison to 1993.14

Table 4

13 This is in contrast to what happened under the de-nationalization wave that took place at the end of the 1950s, as a result of policies from the so-called “developmentalism” plan. Back then, with limits and a variety of negative social and economic impacts, the presence of foreign capital contributed to raising existing stock capital (giving preference to investment processes for new plants and expansions instead of purchases by national companies) and to redefining the profile of the domestic economy, especially in the industry field. An analysis of the foreignization of the manufacturing sector during the “developmentalism” stage can be found in Sourrouille (1976).

14 The importance of external markets in the accumulation cycle of large foreign businesses is clear in the evolution of the export coefficient of this cast of leading firms: during convertibility, these corporations exported, on average, about 25% of their total sales, a percentage that reached almost 50% in the post-convertibility era. (In these time periods, the average export coefficient of the set of manufacturing industry firms went from 11.7% to 24.2%.)