Clothing stores in Argentina that sell garments with images of foreign flags may soon be forced to add attire with the Argentinean flag to their inventory.
Congressman Jorge Rivas of the Front for Victory coalition has authored a bill to compel this change in the name of “protecting the feeling of belonging to the nation.”
Rivas introduced the legislation on October 23 in the Chamber of Deputies, and the bill is currently being reviewed by the Industry and Commerce commissions. “Throughout the national territory, businesses that sell or offer formal or casual attire which display the flag of another country must have in their store similar garments with the Argentinean flag,” states the proposed law.
Articles 2 and 3 of the bill task the Economy Ministry’s Secretariat of Commerce with enforcing the law and determining its compliance criteria, if passed.
“Businesses that fail to comply with the provisions of Article 1 will be fined or shut down,” according to Article 4 of the legislation.
Rivas, whose term ends in December, claims the bill protects Argentinean consumers’ “freedom of choice.”
“The consumer has the right to be informed in a precise, clear, and detailed way on everything related to the goods they will purchase, their payments options, and to be provided with alternatives that facilitate freedom of choice,” he wrote.
The congressman argues that Argentinean citizens’ “feeling of belonging” may be undermined when a store only offers clothing with flags of other countries.
“In this regard, Mr. President, we are especially thinking of the veterans of the Falklands War, whose efforts and sacrifices in defense of national sovereignty have already suffered from so many displays of ingratitude and neglect in society.”
The PanAm Post attempted to contact Congressman Rivas, but his secretary said “he is not commenting” on the bill.
The CEO of a well-known clothing store in Argentina, who prefers to remain anonymous, tells the PanAm Post that the initiative is “outrageous,” and that “only Kirchnerists” would buy a shirt with an Argentinean flag instead.
“Who is going to pay for this?” he asked, adding that Congress should not burden an already “regulated business” with more regulations.
Alejandro Bongiovani, public policy director at the Liberty Foundation in Rosario, says that these kinds of bills should not be a surprise. “This sort of nationalism takes us back centuries. We are now in a globalized world. If there is a demand for T-shirts of Jamaica or Belgium, why should we make businessmen pay for Argentinean T-shirts that nobody will buy?”
“Only lawmakers can afford to offer things that nobody buys, like this kind of absurd proposal, without incurring losses, since they live off of our taxes,” he says.
This is not the first time politicians attempt to dictate what items clothing stores can sell in Argentina.
Since 2005, all stores in the province of Buenos Aires must offer women’s garments in at least six sizes. In the city of Buenos Aires, the law requires stores to offer eight different sizes, but enforcement of the law has been postponed until 2018.