Sunday, April 1, 2012

Argentina bans imported books?

Reports of a ban on import of books into Argentina were reported here and here.
"The Argentine government has severely restricted the importation of books due to “human health concerns” [in Spanish]. That’s right. According to the government, it can be dangerous to “page through” a book that has high lead quantities in its ink. “If you put you finger in your mouth after paging through a book, that can be dangerous,” said Juan Carlos Sacco, the vice-president of an industrialist organization that supports the measure.

The government claims that this is not a ban. However, since each buyer has to demonstrate at the airport’s customs office that the ink in the purchased book has lead quantities no higher than 0.006% in its chemical composition, the result is that all book imports into the country are stalled.

The measure has a lot to do with the increasing efforts of the Argentine government to stop the flight of dollars out of the country. Capital flight in 2011 reached $21.5 billion, and it accelerated after the reelection of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in October. Facing increasing fiscal pressures, and after seizing private pension funds and raiding the Central Bank’s reserves, many people expect the government to go after their bank savings."

 I found this to ban interesting piece of news! Is it a restrictive technical barrier to trade? Does the measure of Argentina violate its obligations under the TBT Agreement? Further, is the restriction only on imports or even locally published books? If the restriction is only on imported books, is it not a violation of the national treatment principle of the GATT Agreement? I could not find the actual restriction in English so haven't attempted a detailed blog piece!

1 comment:

Steve Craven said...

This isn't all the crazy stuff Argentina is up to - and it sounds as if much of the world is getting upset about it. Check out my post on a protest by 14 countries in the WTO.