Joyce in cattle quota talks

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

Australian Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce is in Indonesia seeking an agreement on cattle imports from Australia.

Industry has welcomed the minister's trip but observers are hesitant to predict an outcome on the latest dialogue between Indonesia's new Trade Minister Thomas Lembong and the Australian Government on the delicate topic of cattle quotas.

Last month, Mr Lembong indicated to media in Jakarta that the country "might import" between 200,000 and 300,000 head in the next four-and-a-half months, and that it was "open" to discussing the potential to have a 12-month cattle quota with Australia.

It comes after previous trade minister Rachmat Gobel last month slashed quarterly imports to just 50,000 head, leading to skyrocketing beef prices in Indonesia and demand far outstripping supply.

That quota cull forced the Indonesian Government to release an extra round of 50,000 permits.

A spokesman for Mr Joyce said the minister arrived in Jakarta on Monday and would be meeting with Mr Lembong and his Indonesian equivalent Amran Sulaiman on his four-day visit.

It is understood the final decision to change the quota from a quarterly to yearly arrangement would be made by the Indonesian trade minister, under consultation with their agriculture minister.

Australian Livestock Exporters' Council chief executive Alison Penfold said live cattle were starting to flow to Indonesia for the October quarter.

"Indonesian feedlots are still in desperate need of cattle," she said.

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