WASHINGTON — The U.S. said Monday it has agreed to open a review into whether Argentina meets the criteria to become a beneficiary of a U.S. trade program.
The top trade officials of the two countries, who met in Buenos Aires on Monday as part of the U.S.-Argentina Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, also agreed to launch a new innovation forum to foster a dialog on several key trade issues.
“The range of issues we discussed today will have a direct and meaningful impact on our two economies, and the many workers and businesses that are essential to their continued growth,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. “I am particularly pleased by Argentina’s support in launching a plurilateral initiative in the WTO to prohibit harmful fisheries subsidies, and its commitment to discuss intellectual property issues that are essential to the success of the United States’ and Argentina’s innovation economies. The progress we made together today will help deepen the United States’ trade relationship with Argentina, for the shared benefit of our two countries.”
Froman said the government of Argentina made the request for a new review of its eligibility under the Generalized System of Preferences. The U.S. suspended Argentina’s GSP eligibility in 2012, citing the country’s failure to enforce arbitral awards. Argentina took steps to settle outstanding arbitral awards with two U.S. companies in 2013.
The GSP program provides duty-free benefits for more than 5,000 types of imported products from 122 designated countries and territories. While the entire GSP program does not cover most apparel and textile imports to the U.S., it does cover travel goods for some GSP-eligible countries, we well as accessories, such as jewelry.
The two countries also agreed to establish an “Innovation and Creativity Forum for Economic Development” focusing on such issues as geographical indications, industrial designs and the importance of intellectual property protections for small- and medium-size enterprises. The first meeting of the forum is slated for early December in Buenos Aires.
There are currently more than 500 U.S.-based companies operating in Argentina in the energy, manufacturing, information technology and finance sectors, according to USTR. Two-way goods and services trade totaled $23.4 billion in 2015, with services trade accounting for about $10 billion of the total. The U.S. goods and services trade surplus with Argentina was about $11.4 billion in 2015.
Argentina is a small supplier of textiles and apparel to the U.S. Combined imports from Argentina were $3.7 million last year.
The U.S. won a case against Argentina at the World Trade Organization in January 2015 that could help U.S. companies boost exports to the South American country.
As part of the case, the U.S. challenged widespread licensing restrictions maintained by Argentina on the importation of goods, including $3.5 million worth of U.S. apparel products. The U.S. exported nearly $11 billion in goods to Argentina, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said. Apparel, textile and footwear exports were impacted by the import licensing restrictions imposed by Argentina, according to industry groups.