WTO Rules Argentina’s Import Restrictions Violate Trade Rules


EspañolThe World Trade Organization (WTO) confirmed on Thursday, January 15, that Argentina’s import regulations breach international trade rules and must be eliminated. Argentina took its case to the WTO after initially losing its appeal in 2014 in a case brought on by the European Union, United States, and Japan.

“Buenos Aires must comply with international trade rules,” said the Geneva-based arbiter, backing the initial ruling.

The plaintiff nations accused the Argentinean government of imposing barriers to their exports, forcing foreign-owned companies to export Argentinean goods in order to authorize imports. German automaker Porsche, for example, had to buy Argentinean olive oil and wine in order to import their cars to Argentina.

According to estimates from the European Union, the clampdown cost them over US$3 billion in exports.

“The United States welcomes the WTO’s findings in this dispute,” US Trade Representative Michael Froman said in a statement. “Argentina’s protectionist measures impact a broad segment of US exports, potentially affecting billions of dollars in US exports each year that support high-quality, middle-class American jobs.”

US exports to Argentina reached US$11 billion in 2014, consisting mainly of energy supply, electronics, machinery, spare parts for vehicles and aircraft, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, chemicals, and agricultural products.

Argentina maintains the right to a final appeal, but it is uncertain whether the Kirchner administration will choose to do so. In the event the South-American country refuses to comply with the ruling, the United States, European Union, and Japan could retaliate against Argentina with export tariffs.

A US trade official said Argentina will have a “number of months” to fix its laws, although it is unclear whether implementing the reforms will be up to President Kirchner or the next administration taking office in December.

Sources: ClarínLa Nación.

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