Indonesia demands U.S. pay for pulling clove cigarettes from shelves

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An angry Indonesia said the United States ought to compensate the country for pulling clove cigarettes from store shelves, because the action violates World Trade Organization agreements.

The United States has banned the flavored cigarettes as part of a national anti-smoking campaign targeted at youth.

But Indonesia says that’s not an excuse, The Associated Press reported. The country says it has lost out on $200 million to $300 million in annual revenues. And the WTO agrees — the United States flouted trade rules with the ban because it was unequally applied.

The WTO’s line of logic: The United States in 2009 banned sales of clove cigarettes that were flavored cinnamon, coffee, grape and strawberry, but allowed the sales of menthol that were produced on American soil.

“We will seek compensation,” Indonesia’s trade ministry director general of international trade cooperation Iman Pambagyo said, to Agence France-Presse. “The procedure under the WTO is if one country ignores the recommendations suggested by the dispute panel, compensation should be discussed.”

The country didn’t say how much it would seek in compensation. But the trade ministry spokesman said the United States was guilty of hypocrisy, too.

“It’s baffling how the U.S., which is always demanding other countries to abide by WTO disciplines and regulations, is now unable to correct its policy, which is clearly in violation of WTO provisions,” Mr. Pambagyo said, AP reported.

The United States did not respond in the report.

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