Colombia protests Argentina import restrictions to WTO

BOGOTA Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:46pm EDT

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BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia has sent a letter to the World Trade Organization protesting Argentina's import restrictions on its products, the government announced Wednesday.

Colombia is among several of Argentina's trading partners who have threatened legal action following efforts by Argentine President Cristina Fernandez's administration to curb imports and improve a deteriorating trade surplus.

The move came amid controversy over Argentina's decision this week to expropriate YPF, the country's largest oil company, which is owned by the Spanish company Repsol.

Colombia's trade minister, Sergio Diaz-Granados, said that Argentina was adopting requirements that would create obstacles for his country's exports.

"We voiced our protest through our ambassador in Geneva 18 days ago, as other countries have done, signaling that Argentina's measures affect free trade and contravene the fundamental principles of the World Trade Organization," Diaz-Granados said.

"What Colombia is asking for is reciprocity, just as Colombians buy Argentine goods, so too should Argentines buy Colombian goods," he said.

Diaz-Granados added that the restrictions, which have been in place for several months, have particularly affected the furniture industry and chemical and paper products.

(Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra, Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Paul Simao)

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