They say that history repeats itself twice: first time as tragedy, second time as comedy. With its laws changing as quickly as ever, Argentina is repeating herself–and turning from tragedy into farce.

The government established a few months ago that any company that imports certain goods into Argentina must export goods from Argentina of an equal value to what it imports. Already, major importers into Argentina such as BMW have begun purchasing massive quantities of wine (which they then resell) in order to continue importing legally into Argentina.

The government has just announced that it now seeks to apply the same to Hollywood movies coming into Argentina–but with the twist that Hollywood must buy an equal value of Argentine movies in order to import those into Argentina.

The stated intention of this maneuver is to encourage the Argentine movie industry. There are many levels of irony with this law, including that 80% of all movies viewed in Argentina are from abroad–the Argentines themselves show an overwhelming taste for Hollywood movies. This is the revealed preference analysis: that people vote with their feet. Perhaps the Argentine movie industry ought to focus more on making movies people love rather than yet another movie criticizing past right-wing dictatorships?

This new law, of course, is likely to have the opposite effect of its intention: instead of forcing Hollywood to buy Argentine movies, its more likely that Hollywood stops bringing movies into Argentina–and encourage more Argentines to download–that is, pirate–their movies on the Internet for free.

The law of unintended consequences teaches us that this law is, indeed, a subsidy for Cuevana, the local equivalent of the Pirate Bay. Whether intended or not.

The lesson for the who wants to import into Argentina: you might want to research finding a partner that is a local manufacturer whose service you can export on their behalf, so that you can import all that you like into Argentina. With most industries, you will likely need to export the same, or a similar or related product; with certain industries, like cars, you can export other products, like wine. The regulations at this point are unclear and we are tracking how it develops closely in order to see the full extent of, and details governing, this reciprocity.