Live Export

Permit timing may hinge on today’s Indo election result

James Nason, 14/02/2024

Signs are pointing to a stronger year for northern feeder cattle exports from Australia to Indonesia in 2024 – but much still relies on the timing of the release of permits following today’s Indonesian elections.

A file image of the Girolando Express docked at Darwin. Pic: NTLEA

Reports of improving demand conditions in Indonesia and declining local herds and meat supplies in the country underpin suggestions that Australia may export more than 400,000 cattle to Indonesia this year, after two successive years in the 300,000 head range.

But the industry is still yet to ship a single steer to Indonesia so far this year, with new year import permits still not signed off by Jakarta, despite 2024 being now six weeks old.

It follows a very strong cattle export activity in December, when Australia exported almost 60,000 head, the highest monthly total to Indonesia for three and a half years.

Many in the northern industry hoped that momentum would carry through into 2024, but the lack of permits has sucked the wind from the trade’s sails as ships were moving in volume again.

Live cattle are one of about 20 regularly-imported food commodities that Indonesia has not yet released import permits for, with the country’s focus on its general presidential and parliamentary elections being held in Jakarta today considered the most likely reason for the disruption to trade.

Government contact

Australian Livestock Exporter’s Council chief executive officer Mark Harvey-Sutton (left) said he understood Australia’s relevant federal Ministers for trade and agriculture and Government officials were continuing to raise the issue in a very busy period for their Indonesian counterparts, but so far without any clear traction towards a resolution.

“They understand it is a busy period,” he said.

“It is a like when we have elections here in Australia, things don’t get done as quickly as they would usually.

“We know there has been representations made by the trade minister and ag minister to their counterparts, and the ambassador has been raising the issue with officials.

“I think they are doing what they can, and we have got to be respectful of Indonesia. They are a good trading partner and a good friend, ultimately everyone respects that, and we just need the administrative process to be completed, that is all we’re waiting on.”

Orders waiting to be released

Mr Harvey-Sutton said he understood there were a number of orders for cattle waiting to be confirmed once permits are released.

“Exporters have been waiting now for six weeks  and we normally would have shipped a few more by now.

“The big wet in the north has meant that not a lot of turnoff would have  been possible logistically, but industry would like to see it get going

“Demand from Indonesia appears to be good, they are moving closer to Lebaran and want to increase their stocks, so there remains a lot of interest there – we just needed the pieces to fall in place.”

Timing could swing on strength of election result

The timing of permit releases from here could hinge on the result of today’s election.

A 51 percent plus first round victory to one of the three candidates for President may see a relatively speedy return to normal Government business, and the release of permits to follow soon after

However a less strident outcome could require a second round of voting in June, which would require more campaigning and could cause further disruptions to normal Government business processes, sources with knowledge of Indonesia’s election process have suggested.

Horticulture permits released

While permits for commodies including live cattle and boxed meat and offal remain un-issued, there has been some progress on other commodities in recent weeks, with the Indonesian government issuing the first import permits for horticulture products in 2024 after a five-week delay.

The first horticulture import permits were issued on 2 February, allowing 2024 trade to commence, according to the Asia Fruit website.

‘Exporters need clarity’ – Shadow Minister 

Shadow Minister for Trade and Tourism Kevin Hogan issued a statement this week calling for Trade and Agricultural Ministers to make direct contact with their Indonesian counterparts “as a matter of urgency” about the delays in the issue of Indonesian Import permits, as the trade enters a key period.

Image source: NSW Nationals

Kevin Hogan

“This is a crucial time of year for our live cattle exporters as we approach the Ramadan and Eid Il Fitr period – the highest period of beef demand and consumption in Indonesia throughout the year,” Mr Hogan said.

“Australia is Indonesia’s biggest supplier of live cattle, a market worth about $400 million a year to the Australian economy. It is unprecedented that 44 days into 2024, permits to export to Indonesia are yet to be released.”

“Our exporters are currently absorbing significant costs for contracted ships anchored at sea, and maintaining cattle on feed as they wait in export yards for over a month. These delays are also affecting goods including fruit and vegetables as well as boxed beef and live cattle.”

“Australian producers have no timeline on when the permits will be released and are blindly making commercial decisions costing them thousands of dollars every day.”

“It is imperative for our industry the Trade and Agriculture Ministers make direct contact with their Indonesian counterparts at a Ministerial level to ascertain when the Indonesian import permits will be released.”


17 Jan 2024 – Strong end to 2023 for livex cattle shipments, Red Sea trade under watch

30 Jan 2024 – Cattle export trade sweating on Indonesian permit release

6 Feb 2024 – Wait for 2024 Indonesian cattle import permits continues



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