25 Mar 2015

Meat industry backs WTO complaint

11:29 am on 25 March 2015

New Zealand meat industry is backing a Government move to take a complaint to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over Indonesian restrictions on beef imports.

In January this year, beef exports to Indonesia fell by 95 percent because of new restrictions.

The New Zealand Government, along with the United States, filed a request to the WTO this week for a formal dispute hearing.

Indonesia has been one of New Zealand's biggest beef export markets, however, trade has been disrupted by the Indonesian Government occasionally blocking imports as it seeks to make the country self sufficient in beef production.

The Meat Industry Association says the restrictions have had a severe impact on the trade.

Chief executive, Tim Ritchie, says it's been a rollercoaster ride because of the uncertainty.

"We had that steady growth in the first ten years and then the restrictions came on as they sought to be self sufficient, and then they found there were quite severe domestic consequences of that and the price of beef on the street went up, went through the roof, and they had to relax the imports again to meet the consumer demand.

"So the great danger is that we're just on this roller coaster again and maybe in six months time they have a need again."

The Government says it has been a complainant in seven WTO disputes and it's confident that this case won't negatively affect the broader relationship with Indonesia.