Foreign Holding of Rural Lands in Argentina

Millionaire businessmen, magnates and multinational corporations are all buying up huge areas of land in Argentina. Making the most of the cheap prices and lack of restrictions they now own a significant percentage of Argentine soil. A new law is being introduced to help limit the dominance of foreign holding of rural lands buyers.  The new bill is called ‘Protection of National Dominium of Property, Possession or Holding of Rural Lands (in Spanish, Protección al Dominio Nacional sobre la Propiedad, Posesión o Tenencia de las Tierras Rurales). The President Christina Fernández has decided to urgently push this bill through that will impact the investments of foreign magnates.

The law will limit the control of foreign holding of rural lands to 20%. The law will affect rural land that is already been bought by foreign investors. Non-Argentine owners will be given 180 days to report their possessions to the government. A new National Register of Rural Lands will also be created that will keep a record of land ownership and the nationalities of owners. So why should the government defend the ownership of the rural areas? The government argues that land is a non-renewable resource that is different from normal types of investments. Nevertheless, the main reason for introducing such a radical and protectionist law is the sheer number of hectares owned by foreigners in Argentina.

The worst foreign holder of rural land ‘offender’ is Luciano Benetton, owner of the famous Benetton fashion brand, who possesses one million hectares in Patagonia: is the size of a small country. When Benetton bought the land it caused huge controversy and brought the issue to the attention of the Argentine public and media. Another foreign owner of Argentine land is Douglas Tomkins, a multimillionaire American and ecologist. Tomkins owns 350,000 hectares in Corrientes, Santa Cruz, Neuquén and Tierrra del Fuego. He does put the land to good use: implementing areas of preservation and conservation, however many Argentines feel it unfair that a foreigner could have so much dominium in their country.

Other famous foreign owners of Argentina include; Englishman Joe Lewis owns 18,000 hectares in Río Negro and American Ted Turner owns 5,000 hectares in Neuquén and Tierra del Fuego. It isn’t just millionaire individuals buying up rural areas: in recent years, Arab and Asian corporations have also jumped on the bandwagon. For instance, the Chinese corporation Heilongjiang will use 330,000 hectares of land in Río Negro to produce food products for export.

The new law will limit the percentage of ownership and prevent foreigners from buying more than 1000 hectares in any one place. The bill is similar to legislation in force in the UK and USA.

The proven Buenos Aires – Argentina lawyer professionals at the Kier Joffe law firm have experience working with foreign clients involved in all kind of cases in Argentina. Buenos Aires Argentina attorney professionals are knowledgeable in almost all the practice areas of law, to service its international cases in Buenos Aires Argentina. International clients will have the confidence of knowing that the case is being handled by an experienced and knowledgeable Buenos Aires  lawyer in Argentina.

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