EU takes on Argentina over import restriction

The EU has requested the World Trade Organization (WTO) to rule on a dispute on Argentina’s import restrictions which, the European Commission has claimed, are damaging European businesses.

The EU is taking this action, along with Japan and the USA, in an attempt to force Argentina to lift these measures, which have been hitting European trade and investment for more than 18 months.

They potentially affect all EU exports to Argentina, which were worth €8.3 billion in 2011.

The decision follows efforts by the EU to find a solution with Argentina through WTO dispute settlement consultations during the summer, which ended without success.

"Argentina's import restrictions violate international trade rules and harm EU exports," EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said. "This is the EU's last resort to see Argentina's unfair trade practices lifted and free and fair trade re-established according to the WTO rules to which Argentina has subscribed."

Since February, Argentina has subjected the import of all goods to a pre-registration and pre-approval regime called the "Declaración Jurada Anticipada de Importación".

Hundreds of goods also need a non-automatic import licence. On the pretext of this requirement, imports are systematically delayed or refused on non-transparent grounds, the Commission said.

As of March 2011, more than 600 product types have been affected by this licensing regime.

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

This practice is systematic, unwritten and non–transparent, the EU told the WTO.

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