United States Requests WTO Panel In Case Against Argentina’s Widespread Use Of Import Restrictions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — December 6, 2012 — United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today
that the United States has requested the World Trade Organization (WTO) to establish a dispute
settlement panel regarding Argentina’s trade restrictive measures applied to all U.S. goods
imported into Argentina. These measures include the broad use of non-transparent and discretionary
import licensing requirements that have the effect of unfairly restricting U.S. exports. Argentina
further disadvantages U.S. exports by requiring importers to agree to undertake burdensome trade
balancing commitments in exchange for authorization to import goods. The European Union, Mexico and
Japan have also requested the establishment of panels on these matters.

“Argentina’s persistent use of protectionist measures broadly impacts all U.S. exporters of
goods to Argentina,” said Ambassador Kirk. “It is vital to American workers that our exporters
obtain fair and equal access to foreign markets, as required by our trade agreements. Today’s step
reflects the Obama Administration’s commitment to ensuring that our trading partners play by the
rules so that our companies can compete on a level playing field.”

The United States requested formal consultations with Argentina on August 21, 2012. The
United States and Argentina held consultations on September 20-21, 2012, but the consultations did
not resolve the dispute.


Since 2008, Argentina has greatly expanded the list of products subject to non-automatic
import licensing requirements. Import licenses are required for approximately 600 eight-digit
tariff lines in Argentina’s goods schedule. The affected products include, but are not limited to,
laptops, home appliances, air conditioners, tractors, machinery and tools, autos and auto parts,
plastics, chemicals, tires, toys, footwear, textiles and apparel, luggage, bicycles and paper
products. In February 2012, Argentina adopted an additional licensing requirement that applies to
all imports of goods into the country.

In conjunction with these licensing requirements, Argentina has adopted informal trade
balancing requirements and other schemes, whereby companies seeking to obtain authorization to
import products must agree to export goods of an equal or greater value, make investments in
Argentina, lower prices of imported goods and/or refrain from repatriating profits.

Through these measures, Argentina appears to have acted inconsistently with its WTO
obligations. In particular the measures appear to violate Article XI:1 of the General Agreement on
Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT 1994), which generally prohibits restrictions on imports of goods,
including those made effective through import licenses. The measures also appear to violate various
provisions of the Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures which contains requirements related to
the administrative procedures used to implement import licensing regimes.

Posted December 11, 2012

Source: USTR