The World Trade Organization (WTO) could only rule on expropriation by the Government of Argentina’s YPF oil company, controlled by the Spanish group Repsol, if the EU would raise demand.
This was said today in WTO to be asked about plans announced by the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez, to expropriate the assets of 51% of YPF oil company.
The sources consulted explained that the WTO has no jurisdiction in this matter and can only be pronounced in the case of commercial demand before the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), which would raise the European Union (EU) and whose process would extend over a year.
They recalled that the WTO is an organization that come Member States to try to settle their trade disputes and that this case is not about that, but a problem of investment protection.
The differences, they recalled, arise when one considers that another Member State in breach of an agreement or commitment in the WTO, which in the case of Argentina does not include protection of investments.
On the possibility that Spain might retaliate, the sources said that in no way could have a commercial nature, such as higher tariffs or the imposition of barriers to imports of products, because it would breach the EU commitments, which acts with one voice in the WTO.
Argentina was the protagonist in the WTO two weeks ago, when she was accused by some of its trading partners to be implemented and enhanced a number of protectionist measures which substantially affect imports and increasingly affecting more products.
Concerned by this situation, observing since 2008, the European Union, United States, Japan, Australia, Israel, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey issued a joint statement detailing the nature and effects of the measures restrictive of trade than accuse Argentina.
Among the most harmful, cited the extensive use of non-automatic import licenses and the need to pre-register and obtain prior approval for all imports arriving in the Argentine customs.
For about four years, the South American country has expanded the list of products subject to such licenses, which currently includes goods such as laptop computers, appliances, chemicals, automobiles, machinery, textiles and stationery, said these countries in a joint statement .
According to WTO rules governing the issuance of licenses is not mandatory, they should be processed within 60 days, but the signatories said that this period far exceeds that many companies have reported delays of six months or more .
Also reported that since February the Argentine government a system of prior registration, review and approval of each transaction involving an import.
Argentina rejected the accusation, considering that is not based on objective data and has a political background.