Indonesian cigarette producers want the government to respond to Brazil’s recent decision to ban clove cigarette sales, an industry spokesman says.
The Indonesian government should hold immediate bilateral talks with Brazil, which recently banned sales of cigarettes containing certain ingredients, including cloves, despite insignificant local demand for clove cigarettes, Hasan Aoni Aziz, the Indonesian Cigarette Manufacturers Association’s (Gappri) spokesman, said on Thursday.
“We encourage the government to use a bilateral approach, such as to request a review of regulations that other countries are drafting that would likely affect the local cigarette industry,” Hasan said over the telephone.
Overseas sales of clove cigarettes were increasing, Hasan said, with exports growing from 7 percent to 10 percent a year.
Due to the potential market, local cigarette giant Sampoerna, for example, opened a clove-cigarette factory in Brazil before US-based tobacco giant Phillip Morris took over the company several years ago.
Indonesia, the world’s largest producer of clove cigarettes, exports up to US$500 million of the product a year, according to the association.
Gappri demanded that the central government ask the US to open its market to clove cigarettes after
the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled last week in favor of Indonesia, which claimed that a US ban on Indonesian clove cigarettes was discriminatory.
The US has banned clove-flavored cigarette sales under the US Family Smoking Prevention Tobacco Control Act of 2009, which was aimed at curbing youth smoking — a move that the WTO said was discriminatory, as it still allowed trade in menthol-flavored cigarettes made by US manufacturers.
“For producers, the most important thing is to gain access to a market that we have lost for the last two years,” he said, claiming that Indonesian firms lost $200 million in sales a year due to the ban.
Meanwhile, the Trade Ministry’s director general for international trade cooperation, Iman Pambagyo, said that he would soon meet with Brazil’s ambassador to Indonesia to discuss the issue.
“On a recent visit to Brazil, the trade minister discussed [clove cigarettes]. Next week, I will meet with Brazil’s ambassador to continue what was raised by the minister,” he said after a China-ASEAN business Forum in Jakarta.
On Wednesday, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said that Indonesia would demand that the US comply with the WTO ruling by amending its laws.
The ruling would likely discourage other countries from enacting similar bans.
“We will also request that other countries that want to follow the US’ move to ban the products suspend their moves,” he said.
Brazilian Ambassador to Indonesia Paulo Alberto Soares did not response to the The Jakarta Post’s request for comment by Friday evening.