Last Thurday’s post on purchasing a car in Argentina or Chile drew a couple comments, from Chuck Goolsbee (who came to a talk of mine in Seattle a few months ago) and Bruce Lakin (whom I met recently in Malalcahuello), that deserve a little more elaboration. I’ll deal with Bruce’s questions first, and Chuck’s in the coming days.
Bruce’s question dealt with selling a foreign vehicle - in his case a Subaru registered in Ecuador - in either Argentina or Chile. This is extremely difficult because of customs issues and taxes. I’d go so far as to say it’s almost impossible in Argentina, legally at least, and doing it illegally is risky: he could either lose the vehicle for evasion of taxes and other regulations, or by getting involved in the black market for vehicles. I have no doubt Bruce could sell the vehicle in Paraguay, where just about anything goes, and so-called mau cars, stolen in neighboring countries, are everywhere. This, though, would be even riskier.
I once disposed of a California-licensed vehicle in Santiago, and I mean disposed of it - I literally gave away my 1979 Toyota pickup to the non-profit Ecole environmental cooperative in the town of Pucón, as it would have cost me more to ship it back to the States than it was worth. Nevertheless, it was a laborious process, not for me, but for the recipient - it took them months to work through the Chilean bureaucracy. Selling it would have been impossible.
In Chile, selling a used foreign vehicle can only be done in Region I (Tarapacá, capital Iquique, pictured above) and Region XII (Magallanes, capital Punta Arenas), both of which enjoy zona franca (duty-free zone) status. This means, though, that the purchaser cannot take the vehicle out of the region for more than 60 or 90 days per year (I can’t recall which). This limits the number of potential purchasers and, consequently, depresses the price. Should Bruce decide to sell his vehicle in either city, he’s not likely to get anything close to its worth on the open market in Ecuador, where he bought it.