UPDATE 2-Argentina 2013 tax revs rise; trade surplus tightens

Fri Jan 3, 2014 5:36pm EST

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BUENOS AIRES Jan 3 (Reuters) - Argentina's trade surplus tightened to about $10 billion in 2013 and tax revenue rose 26.3 percent, the government's tax chief Ricardo Echegaray said on Friday.

Tax revenue last year came in at 858.8 billion pesos ($131.7 billion).

Private economists estimate Argentina's inflation at about 25 percent a year and say tax revenue growth is almost entirely due to price increases. The government says inflation is running at less than half the rate clocked by independent analysts.

Echegaray, head of the AFIP tax agency, said Argentina's 2013 trade surplus was about $10 billion, down from $12.7 billion in 2012. The official figure for full-year 2013 is set to be announced on Jan. 23.

"Exports will have been something like $80 billion and imports about $70 billion. There will be a surplus," Echegaray said.

In the first 11 months of 2013, Argentina had a trade surplus of $8.75 billion, 24 percent less than in the same 2012 period.

President Cristina Fernadez's government relies on the surplus to boost dollar supplies on the tightly controlled currency market. To slow imports Fernandez has imposed measures that make it harder for businesses to get needed inputs.

Echegaray also said December tax receipts totaled 76.1 billion pesos ($11.7 billion), a touch under the 77.5 billion pesos expected by the market.

The International Monetary Fund has ordered Argentina to improve the accuracy of its official inflation data. The government is scheduled to unveil a revamped consumer price index by the end of the first quarter.

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