ARGENTINE RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES AND GOVERNMENT EXPORT TAXES ON AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS.

There have been perennial complaints about allegedly excessive freight rates directed particularly against the Buenos Ayres Great Southern Railway (Ferrocarril del Sud). That railway --- as also the Central Argentine --- was forced in 1928 to reduce its rates, shortly before a general election.

In the table below, Central and Southern railway revenues from transport of agricultural commodities during the year from July 1924 to June 1925 are compared to Argentine export taxes on such commodities in the months of March to May, 1925.

The table shows that export taxes could approach the amount of freight and even exceed it by a large percentage. From that comparison one can conclude that criticism of railway rates and allegations of harm to the development of Argentine agriculture was, to say the least, misguided and ignorant of the real conditions of the country's trade.

The actual weight of taxes was higher than indicated in the last column below whenever the shipment for export was to a nearby port.

Sylvester Damus, March 2007, 2021.

ARGENTINE EXPORT TAXES AND RAILWAY FREIGHTS - 1925
Articles Units Basic
Price
App-
raisal
Excess
Value
Duty Taxes payable Central Argentine Railway - 1924/25
% of
excess
value
May April March Carried Freight Freight per ton Tax as %
of Freight
$ gold $ gold $ gold $ gold $ gold $ gold Quantity $ gold
Horses head 58.25 64.22 5.97 15 0.8950 0.8950 0.8950 15,349 15,576 1.01 5.11 17.50
Salted ox hides 1000 kilos 382.79 405.00 22.21 15 3.3150 4.4910 5.4165 31,605 86,384 2.73 13.78   32.00
Maize 1000 kilos 27.63 42.40 14.77 12 1.7724 1.9644 2.2248 1,862,295 938,722 0.50 2.54 78.22
Linseed 1000 kilos 62.71 94.00 31.29 12 3.7548 4.4268 4.6116 260,705 243,004 0.93 4.70 90.77
Wheat 1000 kilos 45.08 65.00 19.92 12 2.3904 2.8584 2.8140 1,662,248 1,381,366 0.83 4.19 64.17
Wheat flour 1000 kilos 76.69 97.00 20.31 12 2.4372 2.7504 2.4504 220,350 194,598 0.88 4.45 57.20
Articles Units Basic
Price
App-
raisal
Excess
Value
Duty Taxes payable Southern Railway - 1924/25
% of
excess
value
May April March Carried Freight Freight per ton Tax as %
of Freight
$ gold $ gold $ gold $ gold $ gold $ gold Quantity $ gold
Oats 1000 kilos 29.32 37.98 8.66 12 1.0392 1.2504 1.3224 679,001 590,896 0.87 4.39 27.45
Horses head 58.25 64.22 5.97 15 0.8950 0.8950 0.8950 24,350 20,851 0.86 4.32 20.74
Salted ox hides 1000 kilos 382.79 405.00 22.21 15 3.3150 4.4910 5.4165 22,902 71,830 3.14 15.81   27.88
Maize 1000 kilos 27.63 42.40 14.77 12 1.7724 1.9644 2.2248 378,459 183,398 0.48 2.44 81.36
Linseed 1000 kilos 62.71 94.00 31.29 12 3.7548 4.4268 4.6116 102,190 118,156 1.16 5.83 73.18
Barley 1000 kilos 28.68 48.00 19.32 12 2.3184 2.5584 2.6652 131,738 87,663 0.67 3.35 74.96
Wheat 1000 kilos 45.08 65.00 19.92 12 2.3904 2.8584 2.8140 1,093,659 804,984 0.74 3.71 72.45
Wheat flour 1000 kilos 76.69 97.00 20.31 12 2.4372 2.7504 2.4504 137,987 108,696 0.79 3.97 64.13
Sheepskins 1000 kilos 386.00 575.50 239.50 15 35.9250 43.0515 47.1106 10,315 27,290 2.65 13.33   315.20  
Wool 1000 kilos 452.00 642.46 180.46 15 27.0690 39.6000 45.3000 34,750 170,187 4.90 24.68   151.21  

Sources:
The Review of the River Plate, 8 May 1925, page 53 for export taxes.
Central Argentine Railway Railway, Directors' Report for the Year Ended 30th June, 1925, page 13, for quantities carried and freight in £.
Buenos Ayres Great Southern Railway, Directors' Report for the Year Ended 30th June, 1925, page 51, for quantities carried and freight in £.

Notes:
The transport and freight of wool refers only to loose wool carried at a rate per 1,000 kilos that was lower than the rate for baled wool.
The transport and freight of ox hides is shown without discriminating between dry and salted hides.
The last column is calculated using the average export taxes of March, April and May.

Besides export taxes on wheat there were, in 1926, a Statistical Charge of 0.368 gold pesos per ton; a charge of 0.055 gold pesos for Official Stamps; and in the Province of Buenos Aires, a tax of 0.145 gold pesos per ton on all wheat purchases in the Province, which together amounted to another 15 per cent of the average freight charged in 1925 by the Southern Railway for the transport of one ton of wheat.
The Central Argentine Railway carried 1,662,248 tons of wheat in 1924/5 and charged £1,381,366; being 4.19 gold pesos per ton. "In the port zone of Rosario a port tax of 0.286 gold peso per metric ton of wheat is assessed," being 6.8% of the average railway freight.
The average cost of carting from farm to station over 3 leagues was given as $5.60 gold per ton, which may give a measure of the saving to farmers by being able to ship by rail.
(Harold R. Brown, American Vice-Consul, and Brice M. Mace, jr., American Trade Commissioner, Buenos Aires, Costs of Transportation and Handling of Argentine Wheat, US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, Washington, D.C., September 1926, page 10.)