EU challenges Argentina’s import restrictions

The European Commission has launched a challenge at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva to Argentina's import restrictions.

Under WTO dispute settlement procedures, the EU is first requesting consultations with Argentina in a bid to have these measures, which negatively affect the EU's trade and investment, lifted. This is a first step in the WTO dispute settlement system.

If no solution is found within 60 days, then the EU can request a WTO Panel to be established to rule on the legality of Argentina's actions.

The restrictive measures include Argentina's import licensing regime, notably the procedures to obtain an import licence as well as the obligation on companies to balance imports with exports.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht explained: "The trade and investment climate in Argentina is clearly getting worse. This leaves me no choice but to challenge Argentina's protectionist import regime and ensure that the rules for free and fair trade are upheld."

Argentina subjects the import of all goods to a pre-registration and pre-approval regime, called the "Declaración Jurada Anticipada de Importación". Since February 2012, this pre-approval requirement is applied to all imports.

Hundreds of goods also need an import licence.

On the basis of these procedures, imports are systematically delayed or refused on non-transparent grounds. In early 2011, more than 600 product types were affected by this licence regime, such as electrical machinery, auto parts and chemical products.

Moreover, Argentina requires importers to balance imports with exports, or to increase the local content of the products they manufacture in Argentina, or not to transfer revenues abroad.

This practice is systematic, non-written and non–transparent. Acceptance by importers to undertake this practice appears to be a condition for obtaining the licence that allows imports of their goods.

 

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