Britain protests at Argentine boycott call

An Argentine minister’s call on firms to stop importing UK goods in protest at Britain’s position on the Falkland Islands is counter-productive and Britain has raised the issue with Buenos Aires, a British official said on Wednesday.

Industry Minister Debora Giorgi urged company executives on Tuesday to stop importing British goods, a ministry source said, further straining ties as the 30th anniversary of the Falklands war approaches.

“We think that’s counter-productive and also a complete misreading of Britain’s resolve on this issue,” a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters.

“We are also a major investor in Argentina and we import goods from Argentina. It is not in Argentina’s economic interest to put up barriers. The right approach here is one of cooperation not confrontation,” he said.

Britain’s Foreign Office was in contact with Argentina’s Embassy in London about the issue, he said.

The two sides fought a 10-week war in 1982 after Argentina invaded the South Atlantic archipelago. London has refused to start talks demanded by Buenos Aires on the islands’ sovereignty unless the 3,000 Falklands residents call for them, which they show no signs of doing.

Industry Ministry Giorgi spoke with at least 20 business leaders who import British goods, suggesting they replace UK suppliers with those that respect Argentina’s “sovereignty claims and resources,” according to her ministry.

“The government is sending a message to those who still use colonialism as a way to gain access to others’ natural resources,” the ministry source said.

Giorgi’s remarks came a day after officials in Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province prohibited two British-linked cruise ships from docking over the Falklands dispute.

Oil exploration off the islands by British companies has raised the stakes in the decades-long territorial spat.