World Bulletin/News Desk
The United States on Friday demanded that Argentina "immediately" end an import licensing regime and other curbs that have frustrated foreign suppliers, and expressed concerns about a "sweeping new import restriction" Indonesia has imposed.
The comments came in remarks by a U.S. official at the World Trade Organization in Geneva.
Rachel Bae, a U.S. attache, took a notably harder line with Argentina, which is already the target of a WTO suit filed by the European Union over steps the South American nation has taken to discourage imports.
Those include an import licensing regime and an obligation on companies to balance imports with exports.
"Our hope is that Argentina will acknowledge our concerns and terminate these import-restrictive measures and practices immediately," she said, according to a text of her remarks made available in Washington.
"In short, our question for Argentina, again today, is: When will the government put an end to the non-transparent and restrictive measures and practices that have been the source of such longstanding irritation and growing frustration to so many of Argentina's fellow WTO Members?"
Argentina maintains its measures are consistent with WTO rules and complained on Friday that other members are unfairly singling it out by continually bringing them up, a trade diplomat said.
Nineteen WTO members objected to Argentina's policies at the March 30 meeting of the WTO Trade and Goods Council, and the United States, the EU, Japan, Turkey, Switzerland, Australia, Colombia, New Zealand, Israel, Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong reinforced those concerns on Friday, the diplomat said.
Bae began her remarks on Indonesia by stressing it "is an important partner of the United States."
But the Southeast Asian nation has introduced a large number of new trade and investment restrictions "that threaten to make Indonesia's market impenetrable," Bae said.
Those include "a sweeping new import restriction" known as Regulation 27 that the United States understands is intended to implement "an Indonesia Supreme Court finding that imports 'clash' with domestic products and interfere with national development objectives," she said.
Bae noted "the substance of the Supreme Court's decision raises thought-provoking questions about the openness of Indonesia's economy and its ability to fulfill its WTO commitments."
She also expressed concern about import licensing requirements that Indonesia has imposed on a long list of products, including many of interest to the United States, such as livestock products, textiles and clothing and consumers goods like electronics, appliances and food and beverages.
Indonesia defended the policies as necessary to address the needs of millions of poor people in the country, but said it was reviewing some of the regulations, the trade diplomat said.
The EU, South Korea, Canada, New Zealand and Australia joined the United States in expressing concern.
In another presentation at the WTO, Argentina and Indonesia teamed up to criticize a law passed by Spain last month that bans the use of biodiesel produced outside the EU.
Argentina is the world's biggest exporter of biodiesel, made mainly from its plentiful soyoil supplies. Indonesia is the No. 1 producer of palm oil, another raw material for biodiesel.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina's Foreign Ministry called the Spanish legislation "unilateral (and) protectionist," and said the joint declaration had received support from Uruguay, Brazil and Cuba.
Volatility eased as traders focused on the world economy and corporate earnings after a week dominated by the dramatic spike in tensions over North Korea, which triggered a global sell-off before prices bounced back Monday.
Investors greeted the more conciliatory tone after US stocks dropped three days in a row last week on President Donald Trump's vow of "fire and fury" if North Korea continued to pursue its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
The ultra-conservative kingdom has moved to diversify its traditionally oil-dependent economy following a sharp fall in crude prices.
In its monthly report on the global oil market, the International Energy Agency said, however, that it believes the supply glut is easing, partly because demand is growing faster.
US stocks have been in retreat since President Donald Trump Tuesday issued a fiery warning to North Korea to halt its nuclear program.
The move by one of Japan's best-known firms greatly reduces the chance of an embarrassing delisting from the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE).
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index weakened by 0.5 percent to 7,503.39 points.
The approval by the European Commission comes just over two months after the European Central Bank -- which took on the role of the eurozone's banking supervisor in 2014 -- allowed the sale to go ahead for a symbolic fee of one euro.
BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total have all published results in recent days, showing they pocketed $23 billion in net profit in the first half fo the year.
Higher cereal, sugar and dairy prices pushed food price index by 10.2 percent annually in July
HSBC was also a big riser, gaining three percent at £7.65 ($10, 8.5 euros) in late morning trade after the British banking giant announced a share buyback plan alongside a rise in first-half profits.
Both main crude contracts made strong gains, with WTI testing $50 a barrel for the first time since late May and Brent heading towards $53, while mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto saw their share price rise as commodities strengthened.