Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht has told Argentina that the European Commission was ready to use all existing instruments to address the country's recent adoption of trade restrictive policies, following the decision by Buenos Aires to renationalise the oil company YPF, a subsidiary of Spain's Repsol. The EU could file a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the next six weeks, an EU source told Europolitics.

In a letter to Argentina's Foreign Affairs Minister Hector Timerman, dated 19 April and seen by Europolitics, De Gucht warns against the consequences of the expropriation of YPF. "This move sends a very negative signal from the Argentine government to all international investors in Argentina," he says. He notes that "the expropriation of Repsol's shares in YPF only adds to a growing list of problematic decisions taken by Argentina in the recent past in the area of trade and investment".

"You will understand that the EU keeps open all possible options to address this matter at multilateral as well as bilateral level," De Gucht told Timerman.

However, while the European Commission is unable to take any legal actions before the WTO regarding YPF because of the lack of investment provisions in the multilateral agreements, it can, however, take retaliatory measures against Argentina, cutting it out of the EU's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), an EU source explained. "But this would be more complicated" than just filing a complaint with the WTO over the country's import restrictions, the source added. The EU could file said complaint in the next six weeks.


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