Argentina's industry minister 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.
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 Debora Giorgi spoke with at least 20 business leaders who import British goods, suggesting they replace British suppliers with those that respect Argentina's sovereignty claims and resources, according to the ministry.
The government is sending a message to those who still use colonialism as a way to gain access to others' natural resources, the source said.
No one at the British embassy's press office was immediately available for comment.
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.
Ministry figures show that British imports jumped 40 percent to $614 million from January to November 2011, compared with the same period a year earlier.
Argentina's trade surplus has been shrinking overall as consumer demand and high local inflation make foreign-made goods more appealing. Also, as the economy booms, local factories have imported more parts to expand production.
Intermediate and capital goods accounted for more than 60 percent of what Argentina imported from Britain in 2010, according to the national statistics institute.
The center-left government of President Cristina Fernandez has imposed tighter controls on imports to stem losses to the trade surplus. The surplus boosts foreign currency reserves, which the government has used to pay debts since 2010.
(Reporting by Magdalena Morales and Hilary Burke; Editing by Paul Simao)