“Made in Tierra del Fuego” is present in most Argentine homes (Matías Arbotto)
Five decades ago, Tierra del Fuego was a territory with barely 13,000 inhabitants and a modest industry that represented only 9% of its economy. Half a century later, the province has experienced extraordinary growth.
It generates quality employment, supplies 98% of the domestic market and influences the automotive sector.
With 190,000 inhabitants, an industry that covers 29% of its economy and a GDP that exceeds 3.3 billion dollars annually (according to data from the Association of Argentine Electronic Terminal Factories, AFARTE), the province stands out as a prosperous region whose success is due to the presence of the electronics industry.
The city of Río Grande in the 70s (Municipality of Río Grande)
“Tierra del Fuego became the province with the highest percentage of industrial employment in the country. Today the electronics industry is the main private employer in the province. It has 8,500 direct jobs and nearly 7,000 indirect jobs,” explained Ana Vainman, executive director of AFARTE.
Río Grande in 1970 (Old Settlers Center)
In 1972, national law 19,640 was enacted, which created the Economic Promotion Regime of Tierra del Fuego. The law marked a turning point in the history of the province since it provided tax benefits that cover all economic sectors and all inhabitants.
The creation of the industrial subregime, which includes the electronics, textile, plastics, metalworking, and other industries, has been a key component in the development of the region.
Between Río Grande and Ushuaia there are about 20 electronic industrial plants (Matías Arbotto)
“All these changes are due to the sanction of Law 19,640, which established a promotion regime for the entire province. And then the industrial subregime was also created, which gave a special benefit to the industries that were located on the island. Currently, Fuegian electronics supplies all of Argentina with 98% of the televisions, cell phones, microwaves and air conditioners sold in the domestic market,” said Vainman.
Between Río Grande and Ushuaia there are about 20 electronic industrial plants. In addition, there are about 40 automatic insertion lines that allow up to 22 million units to be manufactured. With certifications from international brands such as Samsung, Motorola, LG, Philips and TCL, the Fuegian electronics industry operates with international quality standards. Its versatility is not only reflected in the manufacturing of consumer electronics, but also in the ability to adapt, as demonstrated by producing respirators in the midst of a pandemic.
The electronics industry in Tierra del Fuego is an important source of work for thousands of people (Matías Arbotto)
From a consumer perspective, the presence of a local electronic goods industry offers significant advantages. The cost structure, with a significant component in pesos, acts as a buffer, preventing the immediate transfer of a devaluation to prices when there are exchange rate fluctuations. “In contrast, when products are imported, the cost structure is completely dollarized, causing immediate increases in response to devaluations,” Vainman explained.
This electronic industry is a fundamental piece of the national economy. Currently, its influence extends to the automotive sector, since 7 of the 11 local automotive terminals use Fuegian industrial inputs, and 83% of exported cars contain components from Tierra del Fuego.
This electronic industry is a fundamental piece in the national economy (Matías Arbotto)
The successful present of the Fuegian electronic industry is complemented by a vision of the future. With the recent extension of the industrial subregime in 2021, the Fund for the Expansion of the Fueguina Productive Matrix (FAMP – Fueguina) was established. This fund, fueled by contributions from companies, focuses on financing infrastructure improvements that boost the competitiveness of the province and encourage new ventures.
The companies grouped in AFARTE are already investing in projects ranging from the construction of ports to the development of agriculture in a province that historically lacked this activity. In this sense, the Argentine electronics industry demonstrates that it can be not only an economic engine but also an agent of change.
98% of the televisions, cell phones, microwaves and air conditioners sold in Argentina are produced in Tierra del Fuego (Matías Arbotto)
Its ability to adapt and diversify into other sectors, such as tourism and the knowledge economy, signals a commitment to sustainable development and building a prosperous future for Tierra del Fuego. “It is a pride that in every home in the country there is a television or an air conditioner made in Tierra del Fuego. It is not just a sticker, it is a national industry that supplies the entire country,” concluded the executive director of AFARTE.
Ana Vainman, executive director of AFARTE (Matías Arbotto)
Ultimately, the electronics industry is not only a creator of employment and wealth, but also a protagonist in the transformation of the productive matrix of the province of Tierra del Fuego.
All statistical data in this note were provided by AFARTE.