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GENEVA, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Indonesia has imposed a 20 percent emergency tariff on wheat flour imports for 200 days to shield Indonesian mills from a surge of competition from foreign flour, it said in a filing to the World Trade Organization published on Wednesday.
“The very viability of the producers concerned is at stake, and ... unless provisional safeguard measures are urgently taken, irreparable damage will result in terms of capacity shut downs, plant closures and eventual bankruptcy,” Indonesia said in the filing.
Such temporary emergency tariffs are allowed under WTO rules if a country can show a threat of serious damage to its domestic industry from an unexpected flood of imports.
The Indonesian Wheat Flour Mills Association (APTINDO) had asked the government to impose the tariff in August, arguing that without it, domestic firms would suffer irreparable damage.
Southeast Asia’s largest economy consumed more than 6 million tonnes of wheat in 2011, including imports of about 5.5 million tonnes of the grain and about 680,000 tonnes of wheat flour, APTINDO says.
Turkey is the largest exporter of wheat flour to Indonesia, accounting for about 60 percent of the country’s imports, with Sri Lanka making up around 30 percent and Belgium, Australia, Japan and Ukraine often supplying the rest. (Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by Keiron Henderson)