Australian minister for agriculture Joe Ludwig says he will add his weight to ongoing efforts to resolve a long-running and costly stalemate surrounding a multi-million dollar consignment of beef that remains stranded at Jakarta's main port.
As reported on Beef Central yesterday, Indonesian authorities have impounded a consignment of 118 containers of beef from Australia, the US and New Zealand, worth an estimated $8-$10 million, for the past three months.
The beef was exported under valid import permits but has been refused entry because Indonesian customs officials believe the volume of the consignment exceeds allocated quota.
Exporters now stand to lose millions of dollars if the consignment is not cleared for entry soon by Indonesian customs or released for re-export to another market. Re-export to customers in other Asian markets or the Middle East would provide a viable solution but exporters involved in the crisis say Indonesian bureacracy continues to drag its heels.
WA exporter Geoff Bull, one of several exporters with beef in the consignment, said that despite ongoing hard work by MLA and Australian Embassy officials in Jakarta, there was no sign of a resolution in sight.
Mr Bull yesterday called for Federal ministers to intervene, saying that only minsterial level action could bring about a quick and effective resolution to the standoff.
In a statement issued to Beef Central yesterday afternoon, Minister Ludwig said he will take the matter up personally with his Indonesian ministerial counterparts.
“I am aware that Australian beef has been held up by Indonesian Customs, due to anomalies with the import documentation presented by the Indonesian importer," Mr Ludwig said.
"Beef shipments from several other countries have also been affected.
“The Australian government is actively seeking to have the matter resolved quickly, either by allowing the beef to enter Indonesia or by facilitating its re-export to another market.
“Australian Embassy representatives in Jakarta have been working with the exporters, Australian meat industry representatives and the Indonesian authorities to find a solution.
“I will be contacting Indonesia ministers, seeking a resolution of this matter.
“Australia’s agriculture trade relationship with Indonesia is important and growing.
"Exports were worth $2.3 billion in 2011-12, with the major items being wheat, cotton, livestock, beef and horticulture products.”
Mr Bull told Beef Central the minister's action was welcome, but added that it needed to occur urgently, and intervention from trade minister Craig Emerson and prime minister Julia Gillard was also desperately needed for a resolution to be achieved.
He said that while the Australian Government was staking Australia's future in Asia, it had to provide adequate support for exporters if its vision to build business ties with the region was to come to fruition.
Mr Bull said continued erratic incidents within Indonesia were causing exporters both within Australia and in other countries to increasingly view the country as an unreliable place to do business.