10 Nov 2017

Indonesia to drop NZ import restrictions

1:21 pm on 10 November 2017

Indonesia has lost an appeal ruling at the World Trade Organisation in a dispute with New Zealand and the United States over its restrictions on imports of food and animal products including beef and poultry.

Chickens and rooster on an organic farm.

Indonesia was told the lift restrictions on imports of food and animal products including poultry. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The WTO has again told Indonesia to its drop the import barriers, estimated to have cost New Zealand's beef sector up to a billion dollars in lost trade.

Indonesia had argued that its rules were based on health concerns and halal food standards, or aimed to deal with temporary surpluses on the domestic market.

In December 2016, a panel of adjudicators faulted Indonesia, which appealed.

Before the trade dispute, Indonesia was New Zealand's second largest beef market, taking nearly 50-thousand tonnes worth of meat and offal, but that dropped by 82 per cent due to trade barriers.

Trade Minister David Parker said the appeal ruling illustrated the value that New Zealand, as a small country, gained from international trade rules.

The Meat Industry Alliance said if trade barriers to Indonesia were lifted New Zealand exports would not bounce back to the highs of 2010, but it would create a more level playing field.

Its chief executive, Tim Ritchie, said Indonesia has slowly been 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."

Minister for Agriculture Damien O'Connor said having a variety of markets was key.