* Argentina asks global trade body to rule on disputes
* Says U.S. blocking imports of lemons and beef
* Accuses European Union of restricting biodiesel shipments
BUENOS AIRES, Dec 5 Argentina has asked the
World Trade Organization to investigate its claims that the
United States and European Union have broken WTO rules by
curbing imports of lemons, beef and biodiesel, the foreign
minister said on Wednesday.
The move ups the ante in long-simmering disputes between the
left-leaning government of President Cristina Fernandez and two
of Argentina's most important partners.
"The measures against Argentine exports ... have caused
serious damage to Argentine farmers, also causing the loss of
thousands of jobs," Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said.
"We're open to keep talking while this complaint is handled
by the World Trade Organization," he told a news conference,
adding that the complaints were filed earlier in the day.
The South American country accuses the United States of
blocking imports of Argentine beef and fresh lemons while it
says that the European Union and Spain have done the same with
Diplomatic and business relations have been strained between
Argentina and the EU since earlier this year when Fernandez
seized a majority stake in Argentina's top energy company YPF
from Spanish oil major Repsol.
Argentina has previously complained to the WTO over both
issues, but Wednesday's presentation is a formal request for the
organization's Dispute Settlement Body to rule on the dispute.
Under WTO rules a country accused of breaking the rules has
60 days to try to resolve the complaint, after which the
complainant can ask the WTO to set up a panel of adjudicators to
judge the merits of the disputes.
Argentina is the world's top exporter of biodiesel, which is
made with the soy that grows abundantly in the Pampas farm belt.
Spain announced import barriers against Argentine biodiesel
in April, just after Buenos Aires said it would seize control of
YPF. The nationalization infuriated EU politicians.
In August the Fernandez government accused the United States
of unfairly blocking imports of Argentine beef.
The South American country is the world's third-largest
exporter of beef after Brazil and Australia. But it has been
shut out of the United States for years because of restrictions
meant to block the spread of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle.