Reposted from the August-September 2012 Enforcement Newsletter of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
United States Challenges Argentina’s Widespread Use of Trade Restrictions
On August 21, 2012, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced that the U.S. Government requested consultations with the Government of Argentina regarding trade restrictive measures applied to all goods imported into Argentina that appear to be inconsistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. These measures include the broad use of non-transparent import licensing requirements, such as ones obliging importers to agree to export as much as they import.
Since 2008, Argentina has greatly expanded the list of products subject to non-automatic import licensing requirements, affecting products such as laptops, autos and auto parts, toys, luggage, and others. In February 2012, Argentina adopted an additional licensing requirement that applies to all imports of goods into the country. As a result of these licensing requirements, companies seeking authorization to import to Argentina must agree to unfavorable concessions, such as making investments in Argentina, making exports of equal value, and lowering prices of imported goods. Such measures violate Article XI:1 of GATT 1994, which generally prohibits restrictions on imports of goods, including those made effective through import licenses. The United States, Japan, and the European Union have all requested consultations with Argentina on the matter. If the issue is not resolved through consultations within 60 days, the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel can be requested.