As the Indonesian Government hands out massive fines to importers of Australian cattle for alleged cartel behaviour last year, it is also actively promoting the import of Indian beef to its market.
An Indonesian Government minister has told Indian media the country is making every effort to open its market to Indian bovine meat in time for this year’s Ramadan period, which starts in early June.
Jakarta was the focus of a “Roadshow on Indian Meat” last Thursday, conducted by the Indian embassy in Jakarta, the Indian Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) and the All India Meat and Livestock Exporters Association (AIMLEA).
Indonesia’s Director General of Livestock and Animal Health Services, Dr Muladno, told Indian media at the event that the Ministry of Agriculture had sent a country audit team to India in September 2015 to inspect abattoirs and research institutions.
This confirmed that India had “excellent mechanism of meat processing and quarantine control”, Dr Muladno said.
The same reports said India has more than 50 slaughter houses which are above international standards.
Based on this, Indonesian President Joko Widodo signed a decree allowing ‘zone-based’ meat imports in March 2016.
Indonesian law has previously banned the import of beef or cattle from countries affected by Foot and Mouth Disease, regardless of whether those countries also contain FMD-free zones.
A previous attempt by the Indonesian Government to move to a system of ‘zone-based’ imports in 2009 was successfully opposed by Indonesian agricultural groups who argued it was contrary to the country’s constitution and unnecessarily exposed local livestock producers to the threat of an FMD outbreak.
The potential risk of importing FMD and re-infecting Indonesia’s cattle herd after 40 years of freedom from the disease is also a serious concern for Australia’s nearby cattle industry.
Leading cattle vet Ben Gardiner explained to Beef Central in this earlier article that FMD can be introduced via the import of frozen beef.
In October last year Russia banned buffalo meat imports from India after it said its inspectors found foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) virus in an imported consignment from India.
Muladno said the Indonesian government wanted to import Indian bovine meat in time for this year’s Ramadan period.
“India has been trying for market access for Indian bovine meat in Indonesia since 1999. With the recent decree signed by President of Indonesia allowing ‘zone-based’ meat imports, India is expected to get a significant share of the Indonesian meat market as the bovine meat will be very competitively priced,” the Indian Embassy in Jakarta said in a statement.
The roadshow included a presentation projecting the strength of India as a consistent and quality supplier of bovine meat to Indonesia.
“India has a track record of 46 years in the export of de-boned and de-glanded frozen buffalo meat to 64 countries worldwide. 100 percent of the meat exported from India is prepared strictly in compliance with Islamic requirements and is genuinely Halal,” the statement added.
Brazil challenges Indo import beef rules through WTO
Meanwhile, Brazil has taken its fight for access to Indonesia’s beef market to the World Trade Organisation.
Brazil has recently filed a complaint with the WTO over what it terms as Indonesia’s restrictive measures on beef importation.
On April 4, Brazil requested consultations with Indonesia and Thailand under the WTO dispute settlement system. One case concerns Indonesia’s trade restrictions imposed on Brazilian bovine meat, and the other concerns subsidies allegedly provided by the Thai government to its sugar industry.
According to information uploaded on the WTO website on April 7, some points raised by Brazil are Indonesia’s restrictive measures on beef imports from countries that were not totally foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease free of those without halal certification.
Brazil also lodged a complaint over Indonesia’s quarterly beef import quota policy.
The Jakarta Post has reported that Indonesia may seek to resolve Brazil’s complaint without going to the dispute panel.
The Indonesian Trade Ministry’s international trade negotiation director general, Iman Pambagyo, said Indonesia intended to meet Brazil’s request for consultation over its beef import policy.
“For sure, we want to be consultative and we have indicated to our representative in Geneva [WTO headquarters] that we want to proceed with the consultation with Brazil,” he said recently, refusing to provide details about the government’s response, according to the Jakarta Post.
Iman signalled that he wanted the consultation to resolve the case before the end of the 60-day period given by the WTO for the establishment of the dispute panel.
Iman said his ministry was examining the validity of Brazil’s complaints.
Indonesian Meat Importers Association (Aspidi) executive director Thomas Sembiring said previously that Brazil’s complaints were “unfounded” as Indonesia was now in the process of changing its cattle import regulation to allow imports from many more countries.
“The new regulation, which is still at the Law and Human Rights Ministry, will make it possible for importers to supply beef from Brazil,” he said.
Law No. 4/2016 which was already signed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, will allow cattle or meat imports based on FMD-free zones, not countries, making it possible for Indonesia to import livestock or beef from certain regions within countries such as India and Brazil that are not yet listed as FMD free.
The zone-based approach will allow importers to bring in livestock or beef from zones that have received disease-free clearance regardless of the hygiene status of the country as a whole.
Under the current regulation, which will be soon replaced, Indonesia only allows imports of cattle and meat from countries listed as FMD-free by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
There are a total of 64 countries listed as FMD-free at present, including Australia and New Zealand, from which Indonesia imports cattle and beef.
Securing a beef export license to Indonesia was an important step for Brazilian exporters in expanding their market base.