Overview  

The United States recently criticized Argentina and Indonesia for their import restrictions on U.S. and other foreign imports. At a June 22, 2012 meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Council on Trade in Goods, the U.S. government challenged Argentina to withdraw the "nontransparent and restrictive measures that have been the source of such long-standing irritation and growing frustration to so many of Argentina's fellow WTO members." Argentina's trade restrictions include an import licensing scheme and a requirement that companies balance imports with exports.

The U.S. objections were echoed by Japan, Turkey, Switzerland, Australia, the European Union, Colombia, New Zealand, Israel, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Argentina rejected the assessment, stating that the "policies are legitimate and consistent with WTO rules."

Indonesia recently implemented several new measures, including export restrictions, pre-registration of imports and import licensing requirements. The United States addressed the country's import restrictions, saying they "threaten to make Indonesia's market impenetrable" and may violate Indonesia's WTO commitments.

The European Union, Japan, South Korea, Canada, New Zealand and Australia agreed with the U.S. criticism. Indonesia asserted that the measures were implemented to address the needs of its citizens, millions of whom are poor and living in substandard conditions.

Companies exporting products to Argentina or Indonesia may wish to take steps to ensure that their concerns are considered as the Office of the United States Trade Representative increases pressure on the two countries.