Agriculture still has considerable importance in the Argentine economy even though it currently represents only 15% of the gross national product. The great importance of this sector lies above all in the contribution it makes to foreign trade: exports are mostly made up of crops and livestock products.
Of the approximately 280 million hectares of mainland Argentina, only 9.4% is currently used for crops; permanent meadows and pastures occupy approximately 145 million hectares, equal to 52.2% of the territory, forests and woods 22.6% and uncultivated or unproductive land 15.8%. The Pampean area, which extends for over 60 million hectares (1/5 of the entire surface of the country) is the most important because it contributes 60% of the overall Argentine agricultural production. Among the cereal crops prevail those of wheat (5 million ha and 81 million q in 1972) and maize (3 million ha and 59 million q), rye (750,000 ha and 7 million q), oats (400,000 ha and 6 million q), rice (83,000 ha and 25 million q). Sorghum crops (1, 5 million ha and 25 million q), flax (441,000 ha and 3.3 million q of seeds, particularly in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Entre Ríos and Santa Fe), sunflower (1.3 million ha and over 8 million q), peanuts (2.9 million ha and 2.5 million q), potatoes (147,000 ha and 13.5 million q) and sweet potato (36,000 ha and 3.3 million q q). Cassava cultivation developed in the northern provinces of Misiones, Corrientes, Chaco and Formosa (24,000 ha and 2.5 million q in 1972). Industrial crops are carried out intensively, outside the cereal zone: sugar cane (230,000 ha and 103 million q of cane in 1972) is grown in three regions: the northern one (Jujuy and Salta provinces), the tucumana and the coastal one of the Río Paraná (prov. of Santa Fe and Misiones). The production of cotton (467,000 ha and 4 million q of seeds and 1.2 million q of fiber in 1972) characterizes the agriculture of the Chaco area; the colutra of theyerba mate, for the preparation of the famous drink (1.3 million q in 1973), is typical of the province of Misiones and tobacco (64,000 ha and 650,000 q) is grown mainly in the northern part of Noroeste and in southern Mesopotamia. The cultivation of fruit trees, scattered throughout the country, have developed particularly in the last twenty years, turning to the internal market and with good prospects also for export; the production of citrus fruits in 1972 was 7.5 million q of oranges, 2.5 million q of mandarins, 2 million q of lemons. 90% of the vines are grown in the cuyana area (prov. Of Mendoza and San Juan); a total of 319,000 ha and 2.6 million q of grapes and 20 million hectoliters of wine in 1972. For Argentina 2000, please check neovideogames.com.
As far as livestock breeding is concerned, Argentina maintains a pre-eminent place in the world both for trade and for the quality and quantity that can be exported. In 1972 the livestock stock amounted to 54 million cattle, 42 million sheep, 3.5 million horses and 4.3 million pigs. Despite the high domestic consumption, just under half of Argentina’s exports is made up of farm produce. However the conspicuous development prospects of the agricultural and livestock sector are still considerably hampered by the high concentration of ownership, with immense estates, by the psychology of most of the owners who see the land as a source of income that does not require investment or care, the lack of a credit policy for
The considerable forest resources are still only minimally exploited; the most important essence is quebracho (120,000 t in 1972).
Fishing has developed well in recent years, favored by the rich bottoms of the continental shelf; in 1972, 250,000 tonnes of fish were landed, approximately half of which were cod.
Extractive activities have no significant importance, contributing only about 2% to the formation of the national product. Coal mined reached 700,000 tons in 1972, iron ore 107,000 tons. Lead (36,000 t), tin and zinc follow. But the most important product for the energy sector is oil (22 million tons in 1973) extracted from wells in the provinces of Chubut and Santa Cruz; the production of natural gas is also increasing (6,200 million m 3in 1972), transported by a modern pipeline network from the Comodoro Rivadavia, Plaza Huincul and Pico Truncado fields in Buenos Aires. Electricity production exceeded 25 billion kWh in 1971, with an installed power of over 7 million kW. In 1974 the large El Chocón-Cerros Colorados plant went into operation, with over 1 million kW installed.
The Argentine industry is still fundamentally based on the transformation and processing of agricultural products (milling, oil, sugar, canning, distilleries) and livestock (preserved meat industry, refrigeration, dairy products, tanning industry). The steel industry has several plants along the Río Paraná (Palpalá, San Nicolás) with a production of over 2 million tonnes of steel (1972); the mechanical industry has its center in Córdoba where mainly cars, industrial vehicles (294,000 in 1973) and tractors (21,300) are produced. The textile, wool, cotton (94,000 t) and artificial textile fibers industries also had a notable development: as a whole it represents about 15% of the Argentine manufacturing industry. In the chemical sector the production of nitrogen fertilizers (40,000 t) is remarkable, while the petrochemical and plastics industry is becoming increasingly important. Among the various industries, cement (6 million tonnes), footwear and clothing developed particularly well.
Communications. – Although they are among the most developed in South America, they suffer from a very uneven distribution: the railway network (about 40,000 km in 1970) is concentrated for at least two thirds in the province of Buenos Aires alone and the same applies to the road network (126,000 km) of which only a tenth is artificial and practicable throughout the year. The maritime and fluvial traffic, which presents considerable possibilities for development, is however hampered by structural deficiencies and by the scarcity of modern shipping; in 1973 the Argentine merchant navy comprised 351 ships with a gross tonnage of 1.5 million t. Air traffic has increasingly developed, with a dense network of internal and international connections.
Foreign trade. – The trade balance, which had recorded negative balances until 1962, turned positive again from 1963 and was particularly favorable in 1973, with a positive balance of 1030 million US dollars (see below), mainly for cereals exports (10 million tons of which 2.5 of wheat, 4 of maize, 2 of sorghum) for a value of 954 million dollars and of meat for over 800 million. Exports of vegetable oils (138 million dollars), leather (152 million) and textile fibers (213 million) also contributed to this favorable result. The most important import items are made up of metals and manufactured goods (548 million dollars in 1973), machines and electrical equipment 475 million) and fuels (211 million). Exports are mainly directed to Italy (15.2%), the Netherlands (10.2%), the United States (8.9%), Brazil (7.9%) and Great Britain (6.9%); imports come mainly from the United States (24.8%), the Federal Republic of Germany (11%), Brazil (10.9%) and Italy (7.2%).