The Argentine government has rejected a case brought by the European Union (EU) at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) claiming it is imposing unlawful import restrictions on all EU exports, including clothing, textiles and footwear.

Speaking to just-style, a diplomat at the Argentine embassy in Brussels said: "The EU action is unjustified". He supported his government's official response that the EU wants to "distract...public opinion instead of solving the trade barriers which affect the Argentine products"    

The EU clothing and textile sector has been growing its sales to Argentina - a tough task given the country's notoriously tough import controls. Last year, EU exporters sold textiles and clothing worth EUR81.8m to Argentina, up from EUR73.8m in 2010 and EUR49.5m in 2009.

In its complaint to the WTO, the European Commission argued that since early 2011 Argentina has illegally requested all goods coming into the country comply with a pre-registration and pre-approval regime, which has delayed or blocked imports.

Non-automatic import licences are justified under WTO rules only under particular circumstances, such as security and balance of payments problems. Brussels argues that not of these reasons apply for Argentina.

"Argentina's import restrictions violate international trade rules and harm EU exports", said EU trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht.