Live cattle exporters remain hopeful of achieving a resolution to the current impasse surrounding Indonesia’s requirement for pedigree information on imported breeding cattle, with negotiations said to be progressing well on a new protocol that should allow imports to resume soon.
Trade sources have told Beef Central this week that the significance of the issue has been ‘somewhat overblown’ by media reports, with one describing it as “really just a technical misunderstanding between Indonesian importers and customs”.
The delivery of a consignment of 2300 commercial breeders, exported by the Northern Australian Cattle Company, has been halted after Indonesian authorities said the cattle could not be released to the importer until pedigree information was provided.
Indonesia has not required pedigree classifications before, and nor is it practical for such information to be supplied on heifers bred in extensive, multi-sire mated northern herds.
Negotiations are currently underway at a commercial level between Indonesian importers, supported by Australian exporters, and Indonesia’s Customs department.
One of the major problems in attempting to resolve the stalemate is that there has been no official communication from the Indonesian Government to explain why the requirement for pedigree information has been suddenly introduced.
Australian trade representatives say Indonesia’s cattle import regulations contain a number of ‘missing links’ that create potential loopholes and leave import policy open to interpretation by Indonesian officials at any given time.
With no clear answers as to why the decision was made, there are numerous theories filling the vacuum.
One stakeholder explained that the requirement for pedigree information on breeder cattle imports had always existed, but has only just been enforced – rather like when the long-dormant 350kg weight limit rule on cattle imports was suddenly invoked in mid-2010 to support Indonesia’s self-sufficiency push.
An Indonesian-source said local authorities had decided to enforce the requirement for pedigree information as means to ensure that importers could not bypass the 283,000 head quota for feeder cattle by attempting to import feeder cattle under the 'breeder' cattle protocol, which is not subject to the same import quota restrictions. (However Australian officials say it is not possible for Australian breeder shipments to be exported as feeder cattle because they must pass DAFF certification as breeder cattle before they can be exported)
Others theorise that the pedigree issue is linked in some way to the recent introduction of the recent 5pc import tariff, but, in the absence of official clarification from Jakarta, no one can say with any certainty why, or at which level of Government, the decision was made.
Despite the uncertainty, commercial sources close to the negotiations say they are hopeful that a resolution may be close at hand.
Indonesian authorities are said to be realising that the policy to require strict pedigree information on commercial breeders will work against their country’s stated desire to import greater numbers of breeding cattle to boost its push for self-sufficiency.
Australian trade representatives have presented a letter to Indonesian officials from the Australian Brahman Breeders Association this week which outlines how extensive northern herds work and explains that northern commercial cattle are not traced for pedigree.
If Indonesia sticks to the requirement that breeder cattle must be supported by pedigree information, importers would only be able to import purebred or stud breeders which would be too expensive for Indonesian farmers or breeding program operators to buy.
Negotiations are currently aimed at working towards the development of a new protocol specifically designed to cover imported commercial breeders.
It is understood the new protocol would not require strict pedigree information on breeder cattle, but would be based on the use of ‘certificates of origin’.
“People expect a resolution very soon on this,” one live exporter told Beef Central this week.
In the meantime further shipments of breeder cattle to Indonesia will be halted until the protocol issues are clarified.