By Natasha Roberts
Date: Monday 28 May 2012
The European Union (EU) has filed a suit with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the controversial import restrictions in Argentina, claiming they negatively affect the European Union's trade and investment.
The suit, relating to problems with getting export licences and importation rules, follows numerous heated disagreements between the EU and Argentina since the Latin American country nationalised YPF, the energy company once majority-owned by Spanish firm Repsol.
In a statement the EU said: "Argentina appears to issue non-automatic import licences in a discretionary way with burdensome procedures, long delays up to six months and under unacceptable and non-transparent conditions.
"Importers are currently confronted with a number of restrictions when entering Argentina's market [and the] measures are blocking imports into the country and discourage investment.
"If more WTO Members adopted this kind of discriminatory measures, the damage to world trade and growth would be devastating."
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht claims that Argentina's import restrictions "violate international trade rules and must be removed", adding that the trade and investment climate in the country is "clearly getting worse".
The EU was keen to emphasise that it, alongside other WTO members, expressed their concern about Argentina's measures repeatedly between 2008 and 2012.
EU exports to the country are currently worth around £6.7bn each year.
The first step in the WTO's dispute settlement process is a request for consultations, which the EU has said it is willing to use as a means to achieve a mutually satisfactory solution with Argentina and avoid litigation.
However, the Union warned that if a satisfactory solution failed to be achieved, it could pursue the dispute by requesting the establishment of a WTO Panel, which will rule on the legality of Argentina's measures.
Other countries are able to join the complaint at a later stage.
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