TOKYO Feb 20 Japan is preparing to take
Indonesia to the World Trade Organisation over a ban on exports
of mineral ores that has curtailed supplies for industry, the
Nikkei business daily said on Thursday.
The Japanese government is set to seek talks with Indonesia
through the WTO this month, the report said, without citing
sources. If the issue was not resolved, Japan would request that
a panel be appointed to look into the case, it added.
If the bilateral talks failed, Japan was likely to team up
with China, another big buyer of minerals from Indonesia, to
seek remedial action, the report said.
A senior official at Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and
Industry told Reuters no decision had been made to pursue the
issue with the WTO, but it remained a possibility.
"Bringing the issue to WTO is one of our options, but we
have not made any decisions," said Osamu Onodera, METI director,
who handles WTO compliance and dispute settlement.
Japan, home to some of the world's biggest stainless steel
producers, is facing higher costs and scrambling to find new
supplies of nickel after Indonesia enforced an export ban on the
raw material last month.
Global nickel prices rallied after Indonesia banned
unprocessed exports of nickel and other minerals from Jan. 12 in
a move aimed at getting higher returns for its resources by
forcing companies to refine the minerals on Indonesian soil.
Japan imported 44 percent of its nickel ore from Indonesia
in 2012. Indonesia's mines ministry forecast in late January
that 2014 nickel production would slump 94 percent to 3.5
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori and Yuka Obayashi; Editing by