a country that aspiring to become first tier status in economic terms, yet to date has failedin its endeavours. A country possessing a temperate climate, an integrated national territory, vaststretches of fertile soil, large deposits of petroleum, easy access to the sea and a literate and fairlyhomogeneous population. Yet a country that one commentator describes as holding a morbid
fascination for students of development because it has apparently ‘gone backwards’ (Lewis, 1990, 1).
This paper will examine the import-substituting industrialisation (ISI) policy followed in varyingdegrees by successive Argentine governments from the great Depression of late 1929 to the fall of thefirst Peronist regime in 1955 and consider whether it contributed to a more equitable insertion of Argentina in the international system.Up until even the 1980s, the preferred strategy for many late industrialising countries to attempt tocatch up with the industrial core countries of Western Europe and North America was ISI. While theexact components of such strategies were not identical for each country, some common characteristicscan be described. Tariffs, trade quotas and quantitative restrictions on imports were used to provideprotection for new domestic industries. Initial ISI was frequently driven by military/strategic aims. The
agricultural sector was seen as a major source of ‘surplus’ for investment in industry and finally it was
commonly held that planning and policy interventions could successfully substitute for markets andcould tame business cycles (Waterbury, 1999).A
rgentina’s ISI strategy began in the post 1930 period, but industrial development on a small scale
predates this policy. Prior to this time, Argentina relied on the export of primary commodities towestern European markets and in particular, the UK. From the second half of the 19
century onwards,Argentina built a productive structure that allowed the country to use its comparative advantages in anexpanding world market that incorporated the country fully as a producer of raw materials and foodand a receiver of manufactured goods, capital and labour (Korol & Sabato, 1990). Investment ininfrastructure such as railways and ports assisted in this process and was dominated by foreign, mostlyBritish, capital. Post WWI, American and continental European capital began to displace Britishdominance. American investment flowed into light industry, especially the production of consumer