UPDATE 1-US takes Indonesia to WTO over plant and animal import rules

Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:38pm EST
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GENEVA Jan 10 (Reuters) - The United States has filed a complaint at the World Trade Organisation challenging Indonesia's rules for imports of horticultural products, animal products and animals, the WTO said on Thursday.

The complaint says Indonesia's non-automatic import licences and quotas "have significant trade-restrictive effects on imports and are used to implement what appear to be WTO-inconsistent measures", a WTO statement said.

Details of the complaint, which could lead to a request for arbritration if not settled within 60 days, were not immediately available and are likely to be published within the next few days.

The dispute, the first to be filed at the WTO in 2013, follows repeated questions about Indonesia's policies from the United States, Japan, the European Union and Canada in WTO committees.

Indonesia, which has fielded a candidate to be the next head of the WTO, has also upset some trading partners and some of its own citizens with a plan to be self-sufficient in food commodities, which involves cutting back on imports.

Indonesia suffered trade deficits for four straight months last year, from April to July, and racked up a record monthly deficit in October. It is separately being challenged by Australia, Turkey and Sri Lanka to explain its decision to slap a 20 percent emergency tariff on wheat flour, after an appeal from Indonesian mills who said imports were hurting their business.