One week after Kevin Rudd unveiled $60m in funding to improve ties between the Australian and Indonesian red meat industries, the Indonesian Government has announced it will hold a forum in Brisbane in August to further explore partnership opportunities.
The IndOz Beef Investment and Trade Forum will feature high level speakers from the Indonesian government including Minister of Trade Gita Wirjawan, Minister of Agriculture Suswono, Minister of State Owned Enterprise Dahlan Iskan, Indonesia’s ambassador to Australia Nadjib Riphat Kesoema and the chairman of BKPM, Indonesia’s federal investment and trade board M.Chatib Basri.
Australian speakers will include Federal Trade minister Richard Marles, Queensland premier Campbell Newman and agriculture minister John McVeigh, Austrade executive director Tim Beresford, Elders managing director Malcolm Jackman, Meat & Livestock Australia managing director Scott Hansen and Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association president David Warriner.
The forum will aim to find “win-win” solutions for both countries, according to the director of the Indonesian Investment Promotion Centre (IIPC) Muhammad Nasir Udin Latief.
“Indonesia as the country is targeting for self-sufficiency of beef on 2014, and has been attracting businesses to invest on live cattle industry starting from breeding, fattening, through abattoir and meat processing,” he explains in a document promoting the forum.
“However, the Indonesia government is fully aware of the occurrence of challenges such as infrastructure, logistic, and proper treatment of cattle.
“Therefore, this forum aims to bring together instrumental parties, including officials from the two governments and business stakeholders to discuss prudent win-win solutions, which could be effectively implemented as national policies within both countries.”
SBY asks ministers to address soaring beef prices
The forum comes amidst reports that Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called on his ministers to work harder to stabilise soaring beef prices.
A Jakarta Post article on Saturday said President Yudhoyono has attributed soaring beef prices to problems surrounding the issuing of import permits and has called on his ministers to resolve the issue.
“I’ve seen the beef-related problems continue without end,” President Yudhuyono said, according to the Jakarta Post.
“I have talked to the trade minister yesterday and asked where an import permit actually comes from.
“He said from here, our own country; not New York or Geneva. If we had to go to a faraway place to obtain a permit, then it may make sense that it takes a long time to get one.”
The article said the President believed import permit issues should be resolved immediately, and urged his ministers to stop 'pointing the finger' at each other in response to soaring beef prices.
“They should not shift responsibility among each other. The(importation) procedure at the Agriculture Ministry and the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) is too bureaucratic,” said Yudhoyono.
With beef prices rising well above normal levels due to an ongoing supply squeeze, the Bulog has been given an additional 3000t of quota to allocate to beef importers to stabilise beef prices.
Forum signals changing attitudes to Australia
Ross Taylor, chairman of the WA-based Indonesia Institute, who has been invited by the IIPC to moderate a session at the IndOz Beef forum in August, said the decision to stage the event was a “significant move” by Indonesia and signalled a changing of attitudes towards Australia as a key supplier of live cattle and beef products.
"The fact that Indonesian ministers will travel to Australia for this event only reinforces just how important it is for Indonesia to have a strong supply chain operating in the meat industry,” Mr Taylor said.
“But they also want security of supply and for Australian companies to take an equity in developing the Indonesian 'adding value' sector of this industry."
Mr Taylor said Indonesia needed to move quickly to not only restore the full quota of live cattle from Australia, but should also be looking at increasing imports of Australian cattle even further under 'partnerships' with Australian companies.
"Additional cattle can be fattened and then slaughtered correctly before being processed and then exported to third party countries,” Mr Taylor said. "This would see a dramatic boost in trade for both countries.”
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