US claims victory in old Indonesian food trade row

AFP, WASHINGTON

Sat, Nov 11, 2017 - Page 10

The US on Thursday claimed victory in a long-running trade dispute with Indonesia over import restrictions on meat, fruits and vegetables.

The WTO ruled that Indonesia’s limits on imports of horticultural and animal goods from the US and New Zealand violate the body’s trade rules. That decision upheld the preliminary ruling.

Indonesian authorities had argued that they needed to protect consumers from foods that might not meet Muslim halal dietary standards, but the WTO ruled the government had not provided evidence to support this concern.

“This is a resounding victory for the US that should result in increased export opportunities for US farmers and ranchers, as well as Indonesian consumer access to high-quality US agricultural products,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.

“This is a complete victory for the US and its co-complainant New Zealand.”

US exports to Indonesia affected by the import licensing rules totaled US$170 million last year.

The WTO established a dispute-settlement panel in 2015 to examine the US complaint, and ruled in Washington’s favor in December. Indonesia appealed the decision in February.

In 2016, Indonesia was the ninth-largest destination for US agricultural goods, taking in US$2.6 billion in goods, the Office of the US Trade Representative said. The country was the eighth-largest source for US agricultural imports, shipping US$2.8 billion in goods to the US.