WTO reports on US-Argentina dispute

by Erica Shaffer
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A WTO dispute settlement panel weighs in on a complaint filed in 2012 by Argentina.
A WTO dispute settlement panel weighs in on a complaint filed in 2012 by Argentina. (Photo: Estancia Tres Valles)

GENEVA – A dispute resolution panel with the World Trade Organization issued a report on a complaint lodged by Argentina regarding restrictions on fresh beef exports to the United States. The report comes less than a month after the US Department of Agriculture announced changes to import rules regarding imports of fresh (chilled or frozen) beef from Argentina and Brazil.

The panel found, among other things, that the US acted inconsistently by failing to adapt its measures to the sanitary characteristics of Northern Argentina. Additionally, the US arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminated between WTO members by allowing imports of fresh beef from Uruguay while prohibiting imports of the same product from Argentina.

Argentina first launched the complaint in August 2012, arguing that certain measures were inconsistent with the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) and the WTO phytosanitary agreement. In the complaint, Argentina challenged US prohibitions on imports of chilled or frozen beef from Argentina; the US failure to recognize certain areas of Argentina as free of foot-and-mouth disease; and delays on recognizing the animal health status of a region, or granting approval to export animals or animal products from that region.

But the US stance on fresh beef produced in Argentina has changed since the complaint was filed in 2012. In August 2014, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced its intention to add Patagonia to a list of countries deemed free of FMD and rinderpest. And in June of this year, USDA announced rule changes that would allow imports of fresh beef from Argentina. Once the rules go into effect, the US will allow imports from the Patagonia.

View the complete WTO panel report at https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/447r_e.pdf.

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