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European Commission - Press release
EU challenges Argentina's import restrictions
Brussels, 25 May 2012 - The EU today launched a challenge to Argentina's import restrictions at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva. 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. The restrictive measures include Argentina's import licensing regime and notably the procedures to obtain an import licence as well as the obligation on companies to balance imports with exports. 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.
"Argentina's import restrictions violate international trade rules and must be removed. These measures are causing very real damage to EU companies – hurting jobs and our economy as a whole", said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. "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."
The EU has clear concerns in respect of Argentina's import measures which run contrary to WTO rules for a transparent, free and fair trading system. These include:
The restrictions which were in place in 2011 affected about €500 million of exports in the same year. As of 2012, the extension of the measures to all products raised the magnitude of the potentially affected trade to all EU exports to Argentina, which amounted to €8.3 billion in 2011. The long-term impact of a negative trade and investment climate is significantly higher.
The EU, together with other major world trading partners, has raised the issue with Argentina repeatedly over the past years without success.
Trade facts and figures
Trade in goods (directly impacted by the restrictive measures and subject to this WTO case)
EU imports from Argentina primarily consist of agricultural products (food and live animals, 53%), chemicals (16%) and raw materials (14%), while the EU mainly exports manufactured goods such as machinery and transport equipment, such as cars and car parts (50%) and chemicals (20%) to Argentina.
Trade in commercial services
Argentina's restrictive measures are extending to more and more sectors; in this regard, the EU is also closely monitoring the services sector and evaluating the extent to which it is affected.
Next steps in WTO dispute settlement procedures
The request for consultations formally initiates a dispute under the WTO dispute settlement understanding. Consultations give the EU and Argentina the opportunity to discuss the matter and to find a satisfactory solution without resorting to litigation.
If these consultations do not reach a satisfactory solution within 60 days, the EU may request that a WTO Panel be established to rule on the legality of Argentina's measures.