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November 18, 2008

WTO looks into Thailand’s cigarette import barriers

The World Trade Organization opened an investigation Monday into Thai import charges on foreign cigarettes, acting on a complaint from the Philippines, reported Reuters.

Manila alleged in its complaint earlier this year that its cigarette exporters were being unfairly targeted by Thailand's customs rules.

The Philippines said Monday that it has "continuously" worked with Thailand to reach an out-of-court agreement, but to no avail.

Thailand told the WTO's dispute body it was disappointed that the Philippines had asked for an investigative panel. It said it was still interested in negotiations.

Once the trade body assigns arbitrators, the panel will have nine months to produce a ruling. Punitive sanctions can result from WTO cases _ but usually only after years of litigation.

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