Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Pangestu said Wednesday a US ban on clove cigarettes breaches World Trade Organisation rules.
The ban took effect on September 22 and affects all cigarettes containing “certain characterizing flavours” including cloves, used in Indonesian “kretek” cigarettes.
The move is designed to protect children from the dangers of smoking but Pangestu said it violated international trade rules and unfairly affected one of Indonesia’s biggest industries.
She said Indonesia had filed a formal challenge to the Geneva-based WTO earlier this week.
“Going to dispute settlement (at the WTO) is an acceptable way to settle trade disputes if we feel that a country has untertaken a measure that is in violation of the WTO regulations,” he told reporters.
“So in the case of the tobacco bill banning clove cigarettes and not banning menthol, we feel that there is a discriminatory component in that banning.”
The US Food and Drug Administration website says it is also “examining options” for regulating menthol cigarettes in future.