Australian livestock exporters hope a visit to Jakarta by Australian trade minister Andrew Robb today can help to get discussions about annual import permit allocations back on the agenda.
The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) has been calling for annualised permits since the start of this year, asserting that the move will help the Indonesian Government to achieve its desire of lower beef prices for Indonesian consumers.
ALEC argues that the existing quarterly allocation system prevents advance planning and forces exporters to rush to assemble cattle at the start of each quarter, which results in supply uncertainty, unnecessary costs and, consequently, higher beef prices in Jakarta wet markets.
Australian industry and Government representatives raised the issue with their Indonesian counterparts back in March and felt confident some progress was being made. However the issue appears to have slipped off the agenda in recent months, as Indonesian politicians instead state their preference for importing beef and cattle from other countries including FMD affected India as a solution to Indonesia’s high beef prices.
ALEC CEO Alison Penfold told Beef Central the industry has not met with Indonesian officials since earlier this year, and has so far seen no change in approach from Indonesia.
ALEC met with Mr Robb last week, ahead of his Jakarta visit, to reinforce the industry’s message that there will be strong benefits for both Australia and Indonesia if certainty can be provided through annualised permit allocations.
In a statement issued to media yesterday Mr Robb said he will meet key ministerial counterparts including Indonesia’s new Trade Minister, Thomas Lembong along with ministers for industry and communications. He will also meet prominent members of the Indonesian business community, including CEOs from leading banks.
He will also use the visit to promote Indonesia Australia Business Week on November 17-20, when he will return to Indonesia with more than 200 business people as part of the largest-ever Australian business delegation.
Mr Robb said he will emphasise “the importance of predictability in the market” to building enduring, long-term business relationships.
“Building business-to-business links is a real priority for us. There are currently around 250 Australian firms operating in Indonesia and we would like to see significant growth of this figure given the potential in a market of 250 million people, which includes a rising middle class,” he said.
Australian cattle exporters are still waiting for Indonesia to release import permits for the fourth quarter which starts in just 10 days time so they can start assembling cattle with certainty, knowing they will have enough orders for the cattle they pre-contract.
“Indonesian feedlots are fast running out of cattle and shipping capacity is tightening up so the longer Indonesia delays permits, the more difficult it will become to export cattle into Indonesia in October,” Ms Penfold said.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce stated in August that he too will travel to Indonesia in the near future to meet with his ministerial counterparts, but the timing of his visit is yet to be publicly confirmed.