Indonesia’s trade minister has told a conference in Europe that the country is holding talks with beef producing countries such as Brazil and India as it looks to diversify its beef import options.
Speaking in Switzerland earlier this month, Indonesian trade minister Gita Wirjawan said Indonesia was looking to change legislation so it could broaden its beef import options, the Jakarta Post has reported.
“We are shackled, from a regulatory viewpoint, to only being able to import beef from Australia and New Zealand. We’re in the process of making this a little more broad-minded,” Mr Wirjawan was quoted as saying at the conference.
Another article in the same newspaper said the Brazilian Government was expecting its Indonesian counterparts to loosen its policy on beef imports to allow fresh beef from Brazil into its market.
The Jakarta Post said the executive director of the Indonesian Meat Producers and Feedlot Association (Apfindo), Joni Liano, welcomed the initiative to broaden Indonesia’s beef import options, but said the move could be hindered by Animal Husbandry and Health Law No. 18/2009.
“The law stipulates that we are only allowed to import cows from disease-free countries,” Mr Liano told the Jakarta Post.
“The law is implemented as a country-based rule, not region-based, so it is impossible to buy calves from India and Brazil, since some of their regions still have cases of foot and mouth disease.”
Brazil’s ambassador to Indonesia, Paulo Alberto Da Silveira Soares, told reporters in Jakarta on May 16 that Indonesia should loosen its current policy.
“If you could, you should adopt a regional approach [instead of a country-based approach. Many regions in Brazil are free of the disease completely.”
The importation of meat and meat products from countries affected by Foot and Mouth Disease has been historically shown to present a significant risk to countries that are free of the disease, according to the Australian Veterinary Association.
“The importation of meat from FMD affected countries is very closely associated with outbreaks of FMD,” AVA representative, and former Australian Government deputy chief veterinarian, Kevin Doyle, told Beef Central last June. “This is historically accurate.”
Indonesia has moved to reduce imported beef supply over the past two years with the goal of supporting local breeders to achieve meat self-sufficiency by 2014.
Indonesia’s per capita meat consumption is 1.87 kilograms.
In total, the country will need 484,000 tonnes of beef this year, the Jakarta Post reported.
“Confident that local breeders can supply three million live cattle, the government will only allow the import of 85,000 tonnes of beef this year, or 17.5 percent of the total beef demand.
“The government set the import quota at 283,000 live cattle (about 50,000 tonnes) and 34,000 tonnes of frozen meat this year, down from last year’s 600,000 live cattle and 90,000 tonnes of beef. These imports mainly come from Australia, Canada and New Zealand.”