The United States on Thursday asked the World Trade Organization to set up a dispute settlement panel to examine Argentina’s import restrictions on all U.S. goods.
These restrictions include the broad use of “non-transparent and discretionary import licensing requirements that have the effect of unfairly restricting U.S. exports,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said. “Argentina further disadvantages U.S. exports by requiring importers to agree to undertake burdensome trade balancing commitments, such as agreeing to export a certain value of Argentine goods, in exchange for authorization to import U.S. goods.”
The European Union, Mexico, and Japan have also requested the establishment of WTO dispute settlement panels to review Argentina’s import restrictions on their products.
The United States requested WTO consultations with Argentina on Aug. 21. The consultations were held on Sept. 20-21, but 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 about 600 eight-digit tariff lines in Argentina’s goods schedule. In February, Argentina adopted an additional licensing requirement that applies to all imports of goods into the country. The affected products include, but are not limited to, laptops, home appliances, air conditioners, tractors, machinery and tools, autos and auto parts, agricultural products, plastics, chemicals, tires, toys, footwear, textiles and apparel, luggage, bicycles and paper products.
In addition to 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, USTR said.