The EU executive has referred Argentina to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over its protectionist stance which hugely affects the bloc's exports. The move takes the trade war between the two sides to the next level.
The European Union's executive on Friday filed suit against Argentina's import restrictions with the World Trade Organization (WTO), intensifying the disputes between the South American nation and its trading partners in Europe.
The European Commission said the move followed unfair measures by Argentina, including an import licensing regime and an obligation on companies to balance imports with exports.
"Argentina's import restrictions violate international trade rules and must be removed," EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht said in a statement on Friday. "These measures are causing very real damage to EU companies, hurting jobs and our economy as a whole."
The restrictions in place had already prompted individual criticism from 14 of Argentina's trading partners, including the US, Japan, South Korea and Australia. Argentine imports from the EU alone already registered a yearly fall of 4.0 percent in April.
Not the only bone of contention
EU officials made it clear that the WTO suit was not directly linked to Argentine President Cristina Fernadez's decision to seize control of its biggest oil company, YPF, a subsidiary of Spain's Repsol.
They did note, however, that that particular case, too, had refueled debate about Argentina's trade policies. "The trade and investment climate in Argentina is clearly getting worse," de Gucht noted.
The European Commission hopes to settle the issue at the negotiating table in the months ahead. If talks fail to reach an agreement, The EU can ask the WTO to set up a panel of arbitrators to judge the case.
hg/gb (Reuters, dpa)