Ban 'still worry for Indonesia'

Rebecca TurnerCountryman
The West logo

In a demonstration of the State Government's determination to protect and grow WA's live export trade, Agriculture Minister Terry Redman visited Indonesia this week.

Mr Redman, who met Indonesia's Minister for Agriculture and Vice Minister for Trade, said there was still much concern about how Australia had dealt with Indonesia in banning cattle exports.

He said the decision to ban exports threatened Indonesia's food security, leaving a significant and lasting impression on trade relations between the two countries.

It was Mr Redman's third visit to Indonesia and the second since the Federal Government first suspended the live export trade in June.

Mr Redman said that from talking to industry representatives during his visit it was clear it would be a long time before considerable changes across Indonesia's processing industry would be made.

He said despite this, the industry was committed to making changes and the Indonesian Government was pushing strongly for a broad base of accredited processors in Indonesia.

"The Indonesian Government doesn't want only one or two accredited processors capable of taking Australian cattle, it wants a broad base, but this will involve training," Mr Redman said. "It is going to be a challenge but the clear message I am getting from industry is they are keen to play a conservative role."

Mr Redman said the industry did not want to see a repeat ban on cattle exports and therefore did not want to put itself in a position where it could not ensure all Australian cattle were being processed in accredited facilities.

He said that after the lifting of the ban on Australian cattle exports to Indonesia none of the cattle exported in recent weeks had been processed under the new arrangements. These cattle were now in Indonesian feedlots and unlikely to be processed until early to mid November.

Mr Redman said it was hard to gauge if processors were running out of cattle but there did not seem to be supply pressure problems.

Abattoirs were processing locally produced cattle and Australian cattle which had arrived before the ban, so the direct damage from Australia's ban on exports was yet to be felt in Indonesia's processing industry.

For the rest of the year, Mr Redman said that the Indonesian Government had not told him the numbers of cattle it was hoping to import from Australia before the wet season began.

"However, they have indicated food security is very important and for this reason they want to diversify their cattle sources," he said.

Indonesia faced disease and cost constraints in sourcing cattle from other nations, but Australia could not "rest on its laurels" and it was concerning for the WA cattle industry in regard to disease and reduced demand for cattle, Mr Redman said.

He had asked for comment from Indonesia's trade and agricultural ministers on capacity building seminars and he hoped to hear from them in coming weeks.

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails