Panama’s complaint concerns tax measures, company registrations, limits on sending benefits overseas, and financial services. After filing the complaint, both countries have 60 days to resolve the dispute; otherwise, Panama can request the WTO to arbitrate the issue. Panama previously expressed concern about these issues to Argentina starting November 2011. Panama expects new negotiations to begin within 30 days.
This complaint is the eighth case filed against Argentina since May 2012 and another indication of tense trade relations under Cristina Fernandez. Over 40 countries have described Argentina’s trade restrictions as protectionist and contradicting free trade practices. Argentina’s practice of holding exports at the border for 60 days is especially contentious. Other complaints involve Argentina’s “balanced trade” policy, which only extends import licenses to businesses that ship goods overseas for similar values or invest locally.
Panama’s suit follows the 6 December 2012 escalation of a joint U.S./E.U. WTO complaint against Argentina for restricting exports. Beating the E.U. to the punch, on 5 December 2012, Argentina also solicited WTO judgment on a claim against the E.U. for blocking Argentine biodiesel exports, as well as against the U.S. for unfairly restricting lemon and beef exports. Japan and Mexico filed similar complaints against Argentina in 2012.