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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        17  June 2011

Indonesia looking for beef

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The government is exploring importing live cattle from other countries free of foot-and-mouth disease to ease the impact of Australia’s suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia.

“Coordination is still underway involving the Agriculture Ministry, Trade Ministry and the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs. No concrete steps have been taken. In principle, we have agreed to find an alternative cattle supplier. It would be better if we had many cattle suppliers,” Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said on Thursday.

She said the government wanted to import live cattle from countries that were 100 percent free of foot-and-mouth disease, such as the United States and Mexico. Indonesia imported more than 3,800 tons of beef, worth US$5.8 million, from the US in the first four months of this year.

Joni Liano, executive director of the Indonesian Meat Producers and Feedlot Association (Apfindo), said government regulations only allowed beef imports from countries free of foot-and-mouth disease.

The Australian government decided last week to suspend all cattle exports to Indonesia in response to huge public outrage over TV reports showing abusive treatment of livestock in Indonesian abattoirs. It said the ban would remain in effect until Indonesia established standards to ensure animal welfare.

Joni said Apfindo still hoped to resolve the issue with Australia. The government was assessing 120 slaughterhouses, he said, and about 40 percent needed improvements, although he claimed Australia had yet to provide official notification of the standards it required.

“As soon as we receive the guidelines, we are ready to discuss them,” he said.


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