The decision by the Argentinian government claims that the selective consumer electronics ban is meant to slow rising inflation and correct the disparity between the pesos and U.S. dollar, according to website Manuals.ws.
In order to continue smartphone sales in Argentina, Apple must build a plant or partner with a local company to manufacture the iPhone. RIM is reportedly looking to partner with an existing plant so that it can continue sales in the region.
Other handset makers like Motorola, Nokia and Samsung have already moved or built plants in Argentina's Tierra del Fuego free zone after the government passed the Internal Revenue Law of 2009, which added a 20.48 percent tax to the existing 21 percent VAT for certain imported electronic devices.
The new ban is an extension of the Argentina Ministry Industry's March 2011 decision to eliminate the automatic import license of certain smartphones, forcing Apple and RIM to wait 60 to 180 days for Customs Authority approval to sell their devices.
As of October, iPhone and BlackBerry sales comprised 60 percent (machine translation) of the total market, according to local site Fortunaweb.
The ban is part of a larger government initiative to strengthen the Argentinian economy which has seen a steep decline since 2009. The Economist reported in December article that a slowing year-to-year GDP blamed on decreased demand for agricultural commodities and huge government subsidies have caused the country to enact tighter controls on capital flight.
Former carrier Claro's homepage still advertises the iPhone
Apple's Argentina iPhone webpage remains active, however carriers' websites appear have halted sales of the smartphone. The change seems to have taken place suddenly as carrier Claro has left an advertisement for the iPhone on its homepage but has no means to purchase the device online.