Argentina restricted imports of appliance such as refrigerators to protect domestic producers after a surge in sales from neighboring Brazil.
The government will require a special license for companies to export appliances to Argentina, ending a policy of automatically granting licenses, Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna said at a press conference in Buenos Aires.
Brazil's exports to Argentina almost doubled in 2003 to U.S. $4.6 billion as demand rose and a weakening Brazilian currency made the nation's goods cheaper abroad. Brazil's currency has weakened 4.4 percent this year against the dollar, compared with a 0.6 percent drop for Argentina's peso.
"We want to protect local jobs and local production," Mr. Lavagna said. A spokeswoman for Brazil's trade ministry declined to comment.
Argentine imports of refrigerators, stoves, and washing machines have all more than doubled in the first 5 months of the year from the same period last year, Mr. Lavagna said. Argentina in January put a similar temporary measure on the imports of textiles, which ended when Brazil agreed to reduce shipments.
"In the first five months of this year the country has imported more than in all of last year and three times more than in 2002," said Raul Zimmermann, chief executive of Longvie SA, Argentina's second-largest producer of washing machines.
Mr. Lavagna also said Argentina will place a 21-percent tariff on televisions produced in Brazil's duty-free zone of Manaus that have so far been exempt from tariffs. "Imports have surged and that is weighing on national production," Mr. Lavagna said. "There is an existence of damage that justifies the safeguard measures." (Bloomberg)
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