Venezuelan Government takes US to World Trade Organization over sanctions on its Petro coin

Venezuelan government has reported the sanctions against it by the US government to the World Trade Organization, including ones imposed against its controversial cryptocurrency efforts.

While describing the sanctions leveled against the country as biased, the country said the US is infringing on Venezuela’s rights under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) signed in 1994 and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

The coountry cited certain restrictions placed upon “Venezuelan digital currency” transactions. “The United States has imposed certain coercive trade-restrictive measures on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the context of attempts to isolate Venezuela economically,” the complaint reads.

It would be recalled that Venezuela first announced it was developing a cryptocurrency, the petro, towards the end of 2017. While in 2018, Nicolas Maduro, the country’s president launched it officially as a medium of exchange in several industries within the country, as a way of escaping the US sanctions.

However, the controversial token has auffered some setbacks particularly from U.S. lawmakers, who have denounced the cryptocurrency, and more strongly by President Donald Trump, who signed an executive order targeting the petro last March.

According to Venezuelan government, who are not fighting back, saying the sanctions are “discriminatory coercive trade-restrictive measures.” The report futher explains, the steps taken by the US, means Venezuelan financial services and financial service suppliers would receive “less favorable” treatment than services and suppliers in other WTO member nations.

For that reason, such measures are in violation of Article II:1 of the GATS, which states that no member nation will treat another member less favorably than any other nation, according to Venezuela. The complaint goes on to say:

“Furthermore, inasmuch as digital currencies originating in the United States are not subject to the same prohibitions as Venezuelan digital currencies, the United States is according less favorable treatment to Venezuelan financial services and service suppliers than to like domestic financial services and service suppliers, in violation of Article XVII:1 of the GATS.”

Article XVII:1 says member nations will not treat financial services and service suppliers of other nations less favorably than they treat such providers in their own nations.

According to Reuters, the U.S. has 60 days to respond to Venezuela’s complaint. Failute to do so, Venezuela can then ask the WTO to decide on the complaint’s merits.

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