A senior official at the Ministry of Agriculture says new regulations have been drafted to open Indonesia’s market to beef imports from countries with foot-and-mouth disease.
To date, such imports have been prohibited, leaving Indonesia reliant on beef from Australia and New Zealand to make up for domestic production shortfalls.
Under the new regulations, restrictions will only be imposed on imports from those regions of a country in which foot-and-mouth is endemic, rather than being applied to the whole country, as is currently the case with Brazil and India.
However, Tjeppy Soedjana, the director general of livestock, said in Jakarta on Wednesday that the door would not be immediately flung open to beef imports because there were a number of processes that had to be completed in order to guarantee the safety of the beef.
The first stage, he said, would be an audit of the country of origin and its slaughterhouses. The audit team would consist of officers from the Directorate General of Livestock, who would check animal health, and the Indonesian Council of Ulema, or MUI, who would verify the halal status of the beef.
Tjeppy said that if a country passes the audit, the government would then issue registration numbers to approved slaughterhouses.
On Jan. 9, the government told the World Trade Organization that Indonesia intended to change its regulations on the importation of beef from countries with foot-and-mouth disease.
The new rules were drafted in the face of bitter protests from beef industry players, including the Indonesian Beef Importers Association, or Aspidi.
Thomas Sembiring, chairman of Aspidi, said earlier that expanding the number of countries from which imports could be sourced would not make beef more affordable to the public, as the government claimed.
Separately, the Indonesian Meat Producers and Feedlot Association, or Apfindo, said that the dangers of foot-and-mouth disease being brought into Indonesia through infected beef was too real to allow the proposal to be accepted.
Indonesia aims to achieve self-sufficiency in beef by the end of 2010 even as its beef imports continue to rise.