The trade policies put in place by the Kirchner government in Argentina have ruffled quite a few feathers. Earlier in 2012 ongoing tit-for-tat trade squabbles with Brazil caused former Brazilian Ambassador Rubens Barbosa to break with his long tradition of supportive comments on Mercosur to quip that Argentina’s behaviour could well kill the bloc. With bald trade restrictions ruled out by Mercosur regulations, both Argentina and Brazil degenerated into a hyper-orthodox approach to border inspections and adjudications on import licenses that were all but guaranteed to take the maximum period permissible. This barking definitely had bite, with some firms such as potato chip maker McCains choosing to simply close their export-directed plants rather than deal with the sustained disruptions.
Mexico has now jumped into the fray, taking Argentina to the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body on the charge that the Kirchner government’s measures applied to the importation of goods “restrict the imports of goods and discriminate between national and imported goods” and “don’t seem to be related with the implementation of any measure justified under the WTO Agreement”.
This now brings to four the countries questioning Argentina’s current import policies. Mexico joins the EU, USA and Japan with measures before the WTO DSB. Brazil is making its own noises bilaterally.