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Indonesia Blocks U.S. Request for WTO to Probe Farm Curbs

Indonesia blocked a U.S. request for World Trade Organization judges to probe Indonesian curbs on imports of horticultural goods, animals and animal products ranging from beef and vegetables to fruits and dried flowers.

The U.S., which challenged Indonesia on Jan. 10, said non-automatic import licenses and quotas hinder trade and break global commerce rules. Indonesia won’t be able to block a second U.S. request for the Geneva-based WTO to set up a panel of judges to rule on the complaint.

“Indonesia has created a complex web of import-licensing requirements that, along with quotas, have the effect of unfairly restricting U.S. exports,” the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office said in a March 14 statement from Washington. “These measures appear to be designed to protect Indonesia’s domestic agriculture industry.”

Indonesia adopted the rules in late 2011 and tightened them last September to include what the U.S. called even more onerous requirements for horticultural imports. In December, Indonesia announced “drastic reductions in quotas for beef and other animal product imports, further restricting access to the Indonesian market,” the USTR said.

The WTO challenge is the second initiated by the U.S. against Indonesia. In 1998, judges backed a joint complaint by the U.S., the European Union and Japan over Indonesian measures favoring domestic automobile producers.

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