+353-1-416-8900REST OF WORLD
1-800-526-8630U.S. (TOLL FREE)

Country Monitor

  • ID: 2095111
  • Report
  • March 2012
  • 12 Pages
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit
1 of 4
President Barack Obama announced on March 26th that his government would soon suspend Argentina’s trade benefits under the GSP. The move was not a surprise, as Washington had warned repeatedly that it might impose sanctions for Argentina’s failure to comply with rulings by an international arbitration panel that it compensate US firms following long-standing investment disputes. The value of the goods now suspended from duty-free entry to the US market is fairly small, but given Argentina’s dwindling trade surplus the measure nonetheless will bite.

Buenos Aires has come under increasing pressure over the last year to meet its commitments with the arbitration body, the ICSID. Argentina has the highest number of pending cases before the ICSID of any country (25 cases, though this is down from a peak of 42 in 2004). It has also delayed payment of awards, including those in favour of US-based Azurix, a water-services provider, and CMS Energy, a natural-gas and power company. Argentina will now have 60 days to make the payments to the aggrieved companies before the GSP suspension takes effect.

Several left-leaning countries in Latin America—notably Venezuela (in January 2012), Ecuador (2010) and Bolivia (2007)—have pulled out of the ICSID, but Argentina has thus far remained. The ICSID is the main international forum for deciding investment-related disputes, and bilateral investment treaties generally contain a clause requiring ICSID arbitration in such cases. Although Argentina still adheres officially to the ICSID Convention, the government has not paid the awards granted years ago to the two US companies after lengthy arbitration proceedings. The compensation awarded to Azurix in 2006 is more than US$165m, and the award to CMS Energy, granted in 2005, exceeds US$133m. (CMS subsequently transferred its award to Blue Ridge Investments, a subsidiary of Bank of America, after Argentina refused to pay.) Argentinian officials have argued that the plaintiffs should file in local courts in order to collect compensation, and maintain that complying with the ICSID ruling would violate federal laws.

Industry List: Agriculture and food production, Financial Services, Mining (excluding oil and gas), Oil and gas, Retailing, Telecoms
Industry Codes (NAIC): 11;212;22;44;517;52
Industry Codes (SIC): 1;10;48;49;53;60
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown
2 of 4


3 of 4
Country Monitor

US/Argentina: Trade sanctions
The US will suspend trade perks owing to Argentina’s failure to comply with an international ruling
Rebellion against ICSID
Small share, but still a blow

Hong Kong: CY Leung elected

Sri Lanka: Blame game

Key developments: Hong Kong

Key developments: Vietnam

Key developments: New Zealand

China: industrial production

Business outlook: Japan

Syria: Elusive peace

Kenya: First strike

Key developments: Israel

Key developments: Saudi Arabia

Key developments: Senegal

Nigeria: main destinations of exports, 2010

Iran: financial services SWIFT, not certain?
The removal of Iranian banks from the SWIFT system will make it more difficult for firms to import and export, but will not halt Iranian trade
Looking for proxies
Cost burdens

Ecuador: Becoming a big miner

Bolivia: No let-up

Key developments: Argentina

Key developments: Colombia

Key developments: Canada

Argentina: retail sales

EIU forecasts: Americas: 2010-15

Hungary: The challenges mount

Romania: The austerity dilemma

Key developments: Romania

Key developments: Romania

Key developments: Uzbekistan

Russia: retail sales

Business outlook: Kazakhstan

Europe: Shallow compromise

UK: Budget tinkering

Key developments: Germany

Key developments: UK

Key developments: Netherlands

Netherlands: gross fixed investment

Spain: Risk ratings

Western Europe: Regional & country data
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown
4 of 4
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown