Just days after finalizing the hostile takeover of Spanish-owned oil and gas company YPF, the Argentine government got even more hostile, freezing imports of Spain’s signature delicacy: ham.
The Cristina Fernandez administration agreed to the measure at the behest of the Argentine meat industry and farmers, who are looking to increase local ham production. The import freeze also affects Italy and Brazil.
“The embargo against ham doesn’t discriminate based on its origin. It will affect Spain, which exported 274 tons to Argentina last year, Brazil, with 241, and Italy with 199.”
Manuel González, the secretary general of Spain’s Professional Association of Meat Packing Factories and Meat Companies, has little doubt that the ban was driven by the conflict resulting from Argentina’s nationalization of the 51% stake Spanish oil giant Repsol had in YPF.
“It’s obviously a consequence of the economic and political conflict.”
Argentine meat industry representative Martín Gyldenfeldt defended the import restriction, saying it’s not dissimilar to trade barriers the European Union applies to Argentine meat.
However President Cristina Fernandez compared the restrictions on imports of Spanish and ham Italian with the Spanish Government decision to stop importing Argentine bio-diesel after the expropriation of the Spanish group Repsol YPF oil.
“I read today that the Spaniards are complaining because they say that we are not going to let the ham from Jabugo pata negra, and turns out to be that they just threaten us with not letting a single drop of bio-diesel into Spain,” Cristina Fernandez said in a ceremony at the Casa Rosada to announce public works.
Restrictions on the import of Spanish and Italian hams, announced this week by local media, are within the strategy of the Cristina Fernández government to curb imports and trying to increase exports to protect domestic industry and preserve the currency.