Live Export

Cattle exports to Indonesia growing fast

James Nason, 19/10/2011

Cattle loading a live export vessel in Darwin.Latest live export data highlights the sigificant strides that exporters and importers have made to re-establish trade with Indonesia since the temporary Government ban on exports was lifted on July 6.

Trade participants faced a daunting task upon resumption to implement full traceability and animal welfare upgrades in Indonesian supply chains before trade could recommence, which delayed the first return shipment to the market until early August.

Official export data released yesterday confirmed that 20,467 cattle were shipped to Indonesia during the first month of resumed trade, and industry insiders say the number has been growing rapidly since..

More official figures are not available until the end of this month, however sources indicate that September exports are likely to total around 40,000 head when final tallies are registered, and this month could top 50,000.

If confirmed that will mean more than 100,000 cattle have now been exported to Indonesia since trade resumed, a remarkable turnaround given the size of the physical and logistical challenge that faced exporters and importers to rebuild supply chains to meet new Federal Government requirements.

The Federal Government’s Live Animal Exports Reform Taskforce general manager Lee Cale told the Senates Estimates hearing in Canberra on Monday that 14 Indonesian supply chains and five exporters have now been approved under the new regulatory framework.

Ms Cale also confirmed that the Department had received 32 notices of intention to export since the ban had been lifted, and to date 26 of those had been approved.

The increase in activity is pointing to a final tally for the year in excess of 400,000 cattle. While well below the 520,000 cattle exported last year, it represents a significant improvement on industry projections in July that just 300,000 would be shipped in total to Indonesia this year as a result of the two month shut-down.

The figures underline the extent to which hard work by exporters and importers to re-establish trade more quickly than expected has served to prevent even greater losses across the industry.

Australian Live Exporters Council chief executive officer Lach MacKinnon said he could not comment on possible figures for September and October but agreed that export activity was exceeding expectations.

“It really shows the resilience of the Indonesian importers and exporters to embrace what they needed to do and to stand up and deliver,” Mr MacKinnon said.

“To come back to where we are now from where we were, it is a sterling effort, I think they all deserve a pat on the back.”

In addition to the physical effort required to get the trade back on its feet, Mr MacKinnon said exporters and importers had also been forced to invest large amounts of their own money to get the trade flowing again.

“People think that just because the trade is open, things are going to flow, but that is not what happens,” Mr MacKinnon said.

“There is a massive difference between having the trade open and having cattle leaving, and everybody has delivered to minimise the impact.” 

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