EU appeals to WTO over Argentina import restrictions

25 May 2012 14:50  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The EU on Friday launched a challenge to Argentina’s import restrictions at the World Trade Organization (WTO), it said.

Argentina’s import restrictions violate international trade rules and must be removed,” EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said.

The trade and investment climate in Argentina is clearly getting worse,” he added.

Relations between the EU and Argentina worsened this year after Argentina decided to expropriate 51% of the shares of YPF, an oil and gas producer that was majority-owned by Spain’s energy major, Repsol.

In a statement, the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, listed a number of Argentina’s import measures it wants removed.

Argentina subjects the importation of all goods to a pre-registration and pre-approval regime, the Declaracion Jurada Anticipada de Importacion. Since February 2012, this pre-approval requirement is applied to all imports, the commission said.

In addition, hundreds of goods also need an import licence – including chemical products, the commission said.

“On the basis of these procedures, imports are systematically delayed or refused on non-transparent grounds,” it said.

Furthermore, 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, the commission said.

“This practice is systematic, non-written and non-transparent,” it said.

“Acceptance by importers to undertake this practice appears to be a condition for obtaining the licence allowing imports of their goods.

“These measures delay or block goods at the border and inflict major losses to industry in the EU and worldwide,” it said.

In 2011, the EU exported goods worth €8.3bn ($10.4bn) to Argentina.

The EU mainly exports manufactured goods such as machinery and transport equipment, such as cars and car parts, to Argentina, but also chemicals, which accounted for about 20% of exports in 2011.

Under the WTO’s dispute settlement procedures, the EU is – as first step – requesting consultations with Argentina in a bid to have the restrictive measures lifted.

“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,” the commission said.

The EU, with other major world trading partners, had raised concerns over the trade restrictions with Argentina repeatedly in recent years, without success, it added.

($1 = €0.80)

By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653

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