July 22, 2015

 

US pork producers hit Indonesia's import restrictions

 

 

The US National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has expressed its support for the US government's WTO dispute settlement case against against Indonesia, which has imposed import restrictions on US agricultural products including pork.

 

The NPPC, in its comments submitted to the Office of the US Trade Representative, said the Indonesian restrictions on pork imports have made it "extremely difficult for the US pork industry to export product to the Indonesian market".

 

"Indonesia maintains an extremely complicated and burdensome process for obtaining meat import permits...(since) pork importers must obtain import permits from both the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Trade", it said.

 

It added that "these permits are issued on a quarterly basis and only days before the beginning of the new quarter."

 

Moreover, "any imports authorised under the permit system must arrive during the same quarter for which the permits were issued'.

 

"Indonesia's highly bureaucratic import permit approval process for pork, combined with the very limited  period of time allowed for shipments under the import permit system, severely restrict market access," said the NPPC,  a federation of 43 state producer organizations.

 

Utilise 80%

 

Indonesia, it said, has made importing pork and pork products even harder by requiring that "all importers utilise at least 80% of the permits authorised for a given quarter".

 

"Importers who fail to make use of 80% of their permits during the quarter are penalised through restrictions on the grant of future import permits", the NPPC noted.

 

To avoid penalties for underuse of permits, Indonesian importers, according to the NPPC, "consistently apply for permit levels well below their anticipated import needs".

 

The NPPC' accused Indonesia of violating several provisions of the WTO Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures, including Articles 1.2, 1.5, 1.6, 2.2, 3.2 and 3.3 of the Import Licensing Agreement. It did not elaborate on these articles.

 

It added that Indonesia's import regime for pork was "likely in violation" of GATT [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade] Article XI.1, titled "General Elimination of Quantitative Restrictions," as well as Article 4.2 of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, which require the "removal of market access restrictions other than tariffs on agricultural products".

 

The NPPC also accused Indonesia of failing to approve additional US slaughter and processing pork plants despite the Southeast Asian country's stated acceptance in 2007 of pork coming from US Department of Agriculture-approved plants. Indonesia at present allows imports of pork from only five plants.

 

The NPPC claimed that this violated various provisions of the WTO SPS [Sanitary and Phytosanitary] Agreement, particularly Article 2.3.

 

The NPPC also batted for the inclusion of pork offal in the list of pork products that are eligible for import into Indonesia, saying there "is no science-based reason for excluding pork offal from import eligibility.

 

Although Indonesia is mostly populated by Muslims, who shun pork, the NPPC acknowledged the "significant potential demand for pork products in the country's Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional (HRI) sector, as well as among minority populations within the country". --Rick Alberto (rickalberto@efeedlink.com)

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