Australian beef refused entry into Indonesia

James Nason, 30/10/2012

 An Australian meat exporter is calling on the Federal Government to urgently intervene in a trade stalemate that has seen more than $8 million worth of beef stranded at Jakarta’s main port for more than three months.

118 containers of frozen manufacturing beef imported from Australia, the US and NZ by a single importer have been impounded at Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok Port since mid-July after Indonesian customs officials refused to clear the consignment on import quota grounds.

Indonesian government authorities have stated that the consignment of beef exceeded allocated quota, was not accompanied by the required approval letter from the Indonesian Ministry of Trade, and were investigating whether the import permits involved were forged.

However exporters caught up in the dispute maintain it has since been proven the import permits were genuine, evidenced by the fact they had been signed and sealed by the Director General of Trade in Indonesia.

They say Indonesia is dishonouring its own permits in a “disastrous situation” that can only be solved with direct intervention at ministerial level.

Geoff Bull from Allegro Exports at Fremantle, WA, is among several exporters with beef in the impounded consignment, which he says has a total estimated value of $8 to $10 million.

Mr Bull said that while representatives from Meat & Livestock Australia and Australian Embassy officials in Jakarta were working hard to resolve the dispute, they did not have access to the Indonesian ministers who could resolve the situation immediately.

“Our embassy only has access to heads of departments such as customs, trade etc, and the officials there move at their own pace and insist on every piece of paper being provided.

“We need our minister to urgently contact the Indonesian minister of trade and request his urgent attention to end the problem.

“If our Prime Minister would assist with a call to her counterpart, I know the matter could be resolved immediately.”

Mr Bull said it made little sense that quality imported beef was being held at the wharf when the market was desperate for product due to drastically reduced import quotas, which had pushed prices for meat in Jakarta “through the roof”.

“It appears as if our importer, which is the same importer for all of the containers, has the valid permits, but does not have the import quota,” Mr Bull said.

“We want our minister to request this meat to be admitted to the market as a one off special gesture by Indonesia.

“If this can’t be done we want to re-export urgently.

“All of the re-export documentation has been submitted to Indonesian Customs, but they keep on delaying, even though some Indonesian officials are trying hard to help us.

“There has to be an urgent directive from the top in Indonesia to get this matter fixed now.”

The frozen meat remains at the port of Jakarta in the original containers fully sealed.

Mr Bull said Australian exporters involved had acted in good faith and shipped the product against valid Indonesian Import Permits, and Indonesian officials were in fact dishonouring import permits issued by their own department of trade.

He said that with no action soon, the resulting expenses in port charges and demurrage would soon render the product not worth re-exporting.

He is also calling on the minister to request a waiver on the extensive port demurrage costs currently being incurred on the consignment, on the grounds of exceptional circumstances because the beef had been exported under a valid import permit signed by the minister of trade.

“The port charges are crippling and have made us consider whether to abandon the containers,” Mr Bull said. 


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