Mexico seeks WTO panel in trade dispute with Argentina

MEXICO CITY Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:13pm BST

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico will ask a World Trade Organization panel to adjudicate a dispute over trade restrictions with Argentina, Economy Minister Bruno Ferrari said on Monday.

Ferrari said Mexico's request for a panel has been joined by Japan, the European Union and the United States, which had previously made similar complaints of their own.

He added that consultations with Argentina have failed to yield an agreement, but he did not provide details of specific sectors involved in the dispute.

In August, Mexico launched its first trade dispute against Argentina at the WTO regarding import licensing rules established by the South American nation, which critics say amount to a blanket restriction on imports.

The measures are among several policies adopted by the government of President Cristina Fernandez that have prompted accusations of protectionism against Argentina.

The worsening of trade relations between the two Latin American countries follows Argentina's decision to pull out of a car trade pact in early July.

Argentina's centre-left government has tightened controls on imports and foreign-exchange purchases in recent months to improve its balance of trade, which is crucial to boosting international reserves used to pay debt.

In March, Mexico was embroiled in a spat with the Brazilian government over cars, but resolved the issue with an agreement to cap the volume of its auto exports to Brazil over the next three years.

(Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Simon Gardner and Dan Grebler)

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