The legal framework for Argentina's trade policies is set by its membership of the WTO on the multilateral level, to LAIA (Latin American Integration Association, also known as Asociación Latinoamericana de Integración (ALADI) established by the Treaty of Montevideo in 1980) on the regional level and to Mercosur (the Southern Common Market created by the Treaty of Asunción in 1991) on the sub-regional level. Mercosur has three other full members (Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay), two associate members (Chile and Bolivia) and a future full member (Venezuela) whose membership is currently in the process of legislative ratification.
Argentina is one of the original members of the WTO and actively participates in regional and multilateral trade negotiations. Since on the Mercosur level there is currently a common external tariff for the majority of goods, Argentina generally participates in the negotiations as part of Mercosur and as such has concluded several preferential trade agreements, mainly with other ALADI members, as well as framework agreements with other countries of the world.
Although Argentina has generally sustained its commitment to an open economy, this principle has recently been subordinated to the need to conduct certain active policies. In this sense, the Argentine government has engaged different legal instruments within the framework of the various international agreements it is party to, such as trade remedies or customs-related measures.
As a member of the WTO, Argentina's legal framework for trade remedies is set by the Uruguay Round Agreements. The authority in charge of enforcement is the Ministry of Industry and Tourism, through its Secretariat of Industry, Trade and SMEs. Within the secretariat, two agencies are responsible for carrying out trade investigations. These are the Under-Secretariat for Trade Policy and Management (in charge of determining the dumping margin or subsidy and issuing recommendations to the secretariat) and the National Foreign Trade Commission (CNCE), which is responsible for the analysis of any injury and any threat of injury. In 2009, the Ministry of Industry and Tourism was created and both the Secretariat of Industry and Trade and the CNCE are now dependent on this ministry. However, the Secretariat of Political Economy of the Ministry of Economy and Finance continues to intervene in these investigations.
Since 1995, Argentina has been one of the countries initiating the most anti-dumping investigations in the WTO, only behind India, the United States and the European Union. In 2009, Argentina was one of the countries with the most AD investigations initiated. With 51 initiations, Argentina has surpassed its previous record of 32 initiations in the year 2000. The countries that underwent most investigations and imposition of AD measures by Argentina since 2005 have been China and Brazil; the same was the case in 2009, though last year Chinese investigations almost tripled those from Brazil.
In 2008, the Argentine government adopted new rules for anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations. By issuing Decree 1393/2008, the government of Argentina reduced investigation periods in order to favour local producers.
The number of initiations of both countervailing and safeguards investigations is very low. Since 1995, Argentina has only initiated three countervailing investigations and seven safeguard investigations, and the last safeguard measure was adopted in early 2005.
Customs and foreign exchange control
Both import and export prohibitions have recently been reintroduced in Argentina for commercial reasons. The trade prohibitions are directly linked to the government's fight against inflation in the domestic market. Since 2007, an increasing amount of products have seen their exports or imports restricted or forbidden by the Argentine government.
The government has also increased the export duties on different products. These duties were originally imposed in 2002 on certain products. Since then, the number of products and the level of duties have been increased. However, after a four-month conflict with farmers, the government was forced to overturn an export duty increase on certain products. In recent years, customs also initiated a significant number of custom valuation investigations, mainly on products originating from China.
Since 2002, Argentina has regulated the entry and outflow of foreign currency, requesting the surrendering of foreign-exchange earnings from exports of goods on the unified foreign exchange market within a period between 60 and 360 days from the shipment date. The deadline can be extended for 120 business days.