U.S. Elevates WTO Case Against Argentina

Asks for dispute settlement panel over country's import requirements.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. requested the establishment of a dispute settlement panel at the World Trade Organization on Thursday after consultations with Argentina over allegedly unfair import licensing requirements on a wide range of products, including apparel and footwear, failed to be resolved.

This story first appeared in the December 7, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The U.S. filed a WTO case against Argentina in August, alleging that the country uses the requirements to “unfairly restrict U.S. exports.” The European Union, Japan and Mexico filed WTO cases as well, and have also requested the establishment of a WTO panel to examine Argentina’s import restrictions.

“Argentina’s persistent use of protectionist measures broadly impacts all U.S. exporters of goods to Argentina,” said U.S. Trade Representative Ron 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.”

Kirk said Argentina “further disadvantages U.S. exports” by requiring importers to agree to export a certain value of Argentine goods, in exchange for authorization to import goods into Argentina. In February, the U.S. said Argentina expanded its import license requirement from a list of 600 products to include all imports of goods into the country. The import restrictions impact a wide range of products, including an estimated $1.7 billion worth of apparel, footwear and textile exports.

Nate Herman, vice president of international trade at the American Apparel & Footwear Association, has said that apparel brands that have tried to set up factories in Argentina have run into problems because they cannot get access to imported yarns and fabrics to make the clothes, or the machinery to produce them.