INDONESIA has announced it could look at importing about 600,000 head of live Australian cattle over the next year.
It is a major turnaround for an industry that was hammered by the fallout of the live cattle ban by the previous Labor Government – the result of Australian reaction to a Four Corners ABC TV report on cattle slaughtering methods. The unilateral action not only caused diplomatic and trade problems between the countries, it also financially ruined a range of farming family businesses in Northern Australia.
Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce welcomed the news that the Indonesian Government has recommended up to 200,000 head of cattle be imported from Australia in the first four months of 2016, with an indicative annual quota of 600,000 head for 2016.
“After our recent trip to Indonesia it is a very welcome sign to see the overall level of quota being maintained and movement towards an annual quota,” Mr Joyce said.
“This really is great news for both the people of Indonesia and cattle producers in Australia. For some time we have said that the certainty of an annual quota would benefit not only Australian producers, but also consumers and processors in Indonesia. This news is certainly a step in the right direction.
“Our live cattle trade is a big contributor to the economies of both nations, as well as the livelihoods and wellbeing of Indonesians and Australians.
“Australia's relationship with Indonesia in the live cattle export industry is becoming stronger by the day. This is a win-win situation for both those in Indonesia who value-add and for farmers in Australia who it supports.
“While we respect Indonesia's right to make decisions with regards to their imports, a periodic quota system makes for an uncertain trading environment.
“Indonesia is our closest trading partner and our economic futures are closely linked. It’s a relationship that we place a great deal of importance on, and it's built on mutual trust and respect,” Mr Joyce said.
“The Australian Government will continue to work closely with the Indonesian Government to ensure the trade in live cattle is meeting both our countries’ needs and policies. That is why we continue to highlight what we think are the benefits of an annual system to both our nations.
“Good inter-governmental relations between Indonesia and ourselves make this job so much easier.
“We will continue to strive to be a reliable exporter of quality and safe agrifood products, and this government will continue to support the livestock export trade and the returns this trade brings to many farmgates.”
Import permits are now being issued and will be valid for four months.