Details of private trade discussions between Australia and Indonesia have been inadvertently leaked, exposing the government’s growing concerns about a variety of changes Indonesia will enforce in their meat and livestock trade.
Last month, Indonesia stated they would cap imports of live cattle and boxed meat affecting an Australian industry worth more than $600 million last year. Further regulations banning most types of imported offal due to health concerns would affect trade worth $50 million.
While publicly praising the relationship between Indonesia and Australia, Trade Minister Craig Emerson raised concerns on the clarification of Indonesia’s import restrictions and offal ban at the 9th Trade Ministers Meeting between the two countries on Wednesday.
Dr Emerson suggested restrictions may contravene World Trade Organisation regulations. The suggestion is based on the lack of internal regulation on the sale of offal in Indonesia despite the WTO’s principle to treat imported and locally produced goods equally. Further issues were raised over whether the restrictions were based on science.
The meeting was meant to be private however the comments were inadvertently broadcast to a room next door where the joint media conference was later due to be held.
The Indonesian Trade Minister stated they were in the process of reviewing their offal and other beef import restrictions and Australian concerns would be passed to the Minister for Agriculture for review.
Despite their issues, Dr Emerson said after the meeting that the relationship between Indonesia and Australia has never been stronger and that he is optimistic about future developments.