Argentina complains to WTO over US, EU barriers

AP News
Posted: Dec 05, 2012 5:46 PM

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina filed complaints with the World Trade Organization Wednesday over trade barriers it blames for keeping its beef and lemons out of the United States and blocking biodiesel sales to Europe.

Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said that if the WTO doesn't resolve the problem Argentina will seek compensation for damages.

The formal complaints raise the stakes in Argentina's ongoing disputes with two of its largest trading partners, and Timerman said there's more to come. The government is preparing an additional challenge of the subsidies that farmers get in the U.S. and Europe, which he says puts Argentina's exports at an enormous disadvantage.

U.S. restrictions against hoof-and-mouth disease block Argentine beef exports, even though Timerman said Argentina's Patagonia region has been certified free of the disease for nearly a decade, and beef exports totaled $731 million to other countries last year. He blamed protectionist favors for U.S. agricultural businesses, and said similar lobbying has blocked Argentine lemons for the last 11 years, even as 61 other countries accept these imports.

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Argentina's demand against the European Union focuses on Spain's decision to cut off biodiesel imports from the South American country in retaliation for taking back Argentina's YPF oil company from Spain's Grupo Repsol. Timerman said the biodiesel barrier is arbitrary and violates WTO rules, "proof that a double standard exists between developed and developing countries when it comes to trade."