Argentina strikes back at U.S. in WTO beef row

Argentina has lodged a dispute against U.S. restrictions on imports of Argentinean beef and other meat products, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Friday.

A week ago, the United States and Japan filed complaints against Argentina with the WTO, alleging that its import licensing rules are protectionist because they discriminate against foreign goods.

Argentina, still recovering from a debt default a decade ago, is the world's third largest exporter of beef after Brazil and Australia.

"Argentina has notified the WTO Secretariat of a request for consultations with the United States on measures applied to the imports of Argentinean meat and other products of animal origin. Argentina claims that the restrictions, applied on sanitary grounds, don't have scientific justification," the WTO said.

The European Union brought a complaint against Argentina in May, accusing it of limiting imports, and drew a tit-for-tat complaint from Buenos Aires in August denouncing a "de facto prohibition on imports of biodiesel from outside the Community".

Argentina is seen by many fellow Group of 20 nations as a chronic rule-breaker since it staged the world's biggest sovereign debt default in 2002. It remains locked out of global credit markets and relies on export revenue for hard currency.

President Cristina Fernandez's government has angered trade partners by moving to slash imports and riled historic ally Spain with the takeover of energy company YPF.

The disputes at the WTO reflect mounting frustration with the country's unorthodox policies.

[Source: Reuters, Geneva, 31Aug12]

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