The World Trade Organization ruled against Indonesia once again regarding import restrictions on food and animal products from New Zealand and the United States as the Southeast Asian country loses its appeal in a trade dispute with the two countries.
Indonesia has been setting import barriers on various food and animal products, which includes meat and poultry from New Zealand and the US. The two countries brought the case to the WTO panel as the move by Indonesia was a violation of trade agreements.
The original verdict against Indonesia was issued in December 2016, after the WTO had found all 18 restrictive measures were prohibited under WTO rules under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Indonesia exercised the right to appeal against the ruling. It argued that barriers, which included sale restrictions, restrictive licence terms and a requirement to buy domestic products were based on health concerns and halal food standards or aimed to deal with temporary surpluses on the domestic market.
The WTO decision comes as a relief to both countries, and in particular New Zealand; Indonesia had been the second largest beef market with nearly 50,000 tonnes worth of meat and offal are imported. Since the trade barrier was enacted, the number dropped by 82 percent, costing the New Zealand beef industry between NZ$500 million to NZ$1 billion.
Indonesia has been slowly relaxing restrictions over the past year, and trade has been picking up–particularly for beef offal. “Indonesia knows that they need to import beef and they know that we are a reliable supplier, ” said New Zealand Meat Industry Alliance chief executive Tim Ritchie, as quoted by radionz.co.nz.