Argentina vs. the World at the WTO

A blog about business and economics.
Aug. 22 2012 11:04 AM

Argentina vs. the World at the WTO

This is an exciting week for people who like trade disputes, as the United States and Japan file separate complaints against Argentina over import restrictions just days after Argentina slapped Spain with complaints about biodiesel import restrictions, and they say similar action will be coming at America and Japan.

Fortunately, this is one of those scenarios in which everyone is right. Argentina's problem is that lack of investment in its energy sector turned from a net exporter of fossil fuels into a net importer. That's inspired the government to try to take a variety of steps to turn its trade balance around. It also led the government to nationalize the main oil company, which the previous political regime had sold to a Spanish firm. Obviously the Spanish government wasn't happy about Argentina, so they've been taking anti-Argentine measures in basically every available forum. Luckily for them, one thing Argentina's been doing to improve its balance of trade is trying to curtail imports with a licensing system. Thus, Spain has grounds for complaint at the WTO. 

Advertisement

So Argentina needs a counter-complaint. And lucky for Argentina, Argentina is an exporter of biofuels. Biofuel protectionism is rampant all around the world as part of larger systems of agricultural subsidization. So this works against Spain. And now that the United States and Japan have joined the complaining party, we can get dinged for the same thing.

And, really, the world would be better off if Argentina backed off these important restrictions and if the developed world ended restrictions on South American biofuels.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.