December 16, 2011
Indonesia to cut Australian beef imports
Beginning next year, the government of Indonesia will cut a huge amount of beef imports from Australia, reported the country's agriculture minister.
Minister Suswono said that Indonesia is moving towards having a completely self-sufficient beef industry, meaning that Australian exports to Indonesia will be phased out over the next three or four years.
He has confirmed that next year, Indonesia will only allow about 280,000 Australian cows to be brought into the country down from 520,000 permits this year.
But a spokesman for Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig says it is a policy that has been in place since 2010.
He says that under the self-sufficiency plan, Australia could only be involved in the Indonesian beef market if it bred cows in Indonesia.
The live cattle trade was after the ABC's Four Corners program sparked animal welfare concerns. The trade was later reinstated with stricter regulations.
Australian Live Exporters Council CEO Lach McKinnon says he is not sure whether the latest development is a backlash.
"The reasons the Indonesians have done it are obviously up to them, it's not something I can comment on," he said. "They've talked of self-sufficiency, they've talked of other things, but I couldn't answer the question as to why they've actually done it."
He says any cut to Australian imports will be a massive blow for northern Australia's cattle industry.
"It'll put us under a lot of pressure and we'll have to work very hard to get through this," he said. "It's like any of these particular trade issues - it's about government to government and working through what it is both parties want to get."