Mexico, Japan, the United States, and the EU condemned Argentina at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) today on their import policy.
Around 40 countries, including many in Latin America, issued a statement on the “continuing and growing concern about the nature and application of trade restrictive measures taken by Argentina.” The signatories declared the behaviour is “unbefitting of any WTO member”.
Due to a new system, which came into affect 1st February, most imports have to be pre-approved or rejected before they come into the country.
“It appears that this new system is operating as a de facto import-restricting scheme on all products,” Michel Punke, US ambassador to WTO told Reuters.
The statement also condemns the “lack of transparency”, and inappropriate tactics by Argentine officials, raising concerns for exporters and potential exporters.
“Many companies have reported receiving telephone calls from Argentine government officials in which they are informed that they must agree to undertake such trade balancing commitments prior to receiving authorisation to import goods,” Punke continued.
Since 2008, Argentina has increased the number of products that require licences to sell, including computers, mobiles, and textiles. The government claims the policy protects local Argentine industry and maintains balance of trade.
Vice president Amado Boudou defended the policy, claiming it ”helps all Argentines. When we take care about certain products crossing the border, it’s because we’re looking after jobs.”