Argentina - Economic sectors

Argentina has a mixed economy that has well-developed agricultural, industrial, and service sectors. From the 1930s well into the 1970s, there was a concentrated

effort to develop industries and expand industrial capacity. However, the economic problems of the 1970s and 1980s, combined with political instability, led to a period of decreased economic production and the decline of many of the country's major industries.

Agriculture remains a major component of Argentina's economy as crops and livestock provide much of the nation's domestic food needs. These products also provide raw materials for the growing food processing industry. Agriculture directly accounts for 7 percent of the nation's GDP. The agriculture sector is driven by the export of crops and livestock. This makes the sector vulnerable to economic problems with Argentina's main trading partners. In the past, Argentine livestock production suffered from problems with diseases such as hoof-and-mouth disease, as well as restrictions on imports by nations such as the United States. Beginning in the 1980s, agriculture in Argentina began to diversify beyond the traditional products such as beef and sheep. Many food-based oils and specialty crops are now raised. In addition to beef, some of Argentina's main agricultural products include sunflower seeds, lemons, soybeans, grapes, corn, tobacco, peanuts, tea, and wheat. Fishing has declined significantly in recent years as decades of over-fishing have limited stocks of the most popular catches.

Industry in Argentina is diversified and driven by a large and relatively affluent domestic market. Only recently has the nation begun to export significant amounts of manufactured or finished products. Argentina's membership in MERCOSUR has been one of the main factors driving industrial exports as it has expanded access to existing markets and opened new markets. Industry accounts for 29 percent of GDP. As a result of economic problems in Brazil, industrial production growth in Argentina declined by 7 percent in 1999, but rebounded in 2000 by posting a modest level of growth of 2 percent. Among the main industries in Argentina are food processing, automobile production, textiles, energy production, and mining. The nation also has a growing chemical industry.

The service sector is now the leading component of the Argentine economy. In 1999, it accounted for 64 percent of GDP. Much of the growth in the service sector has been the result of the economic liberalizations of the 1980s and 1990s. Several key sectors, including telecommunications and financial services, have seen dramatic expansions as foreign companies have invested in these areas, and there has been an increase in domestic consumer demand. While many segments of the service sector have experienced growth, the economic problems of the late 1990s led to declines in other areas. For instance, retail and wholesale businesses have seen little or no growth as consumer spending has been constrained by the most recent recession.

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