Brazil’s government is ready to respond to Argentine trade restrictions introduced this week but will evaluate the impact of the measures before making any retaliatory moves, trade officials said Friday.
Argentina this week said that beginning in February it will require all importers to file an online affidavit with its tax agency, Afip, before importing goods, providing the Argentine government an instrument to delay imports or determine what goods enter the country.
In response to the measure, Brazil’s Trade ministry issued a statement expressing worry over the effects of the move on trade with its largest regional partner.
“The trade ministry received notice of the measure with concern and established contact with the Argentine government to better evaluate the possible impact on Brazilian exporters,” the ministry said in a statement.
According to a trade ministry official, discussion of the new Argentine measure has already been introduced into the agenda of regularly scheduled talks between the two countries. Argentine trade negotiators sought to give assurances that the measure won’t slow imports of Brazilian goods to Argentina or adversely affect trade, though Brazil remains wary of the move.
“There is no way to evaluate the impact of the measure until it takes effect,” the official said.
Earlier in the week Brazil’s Industry National Confederation (CNI) harshly criticized the new regime of imports and warned that it could contribute to a plunge of sales to that country. The CNI qualified the measure as a “backward moment for the Mercosur trade”.
“The new measure applied by the Argentine government, which is aimed to control the trade balance, will have a negative impact in Brazil,” the CNI stated in a communiqué. The statement adds that the measure increase the judicial insecurity of Argentina’s trade policies and “it’s a threat” to the Brazilian companies that have subsidiaries in the neighbouring country.
Private-sector analysts, meanwhile, have said the measure signals the creation of a non-tariff trade barrier that could further cool already chilly trade relations between the largest Mercosur region partners.
The latest measure comes after Argentina last year stirred up relations with its main trade partner by suspending automatic import licensing on a number of products, including automobiles and parts. Bilateral trade last year was over 40 billion dollars with Brazil exporting 23bn to Argentina and importing 17bn.