Tue, 12 Apr 2011

Government’s Increase of Beef Quota News to the Importers

From: The Jakarta Glob
By Francezka Nangoy

Confusion over Indonesia’s beef imports continued despite the Agriculture Ministry raising its import quota last week.

The ministry said on Wednesday that it had lifted the quota of imported beef from 50,000 tons to 72,000 tons. However, neither the Indonesian Meat Importers Association (Aspidi) nor the National Meat Processors Association (Nampa) said they had not gotten word as of Monday.

Aspidi chairman Thomas Sembiring said he had yet to receive official notice of the quota increase. He also confirmed that none of the association’s members were allowed any extra imports.

“The quota might have been raised, but so far there have been no new import licenses released,” he told the Jakarta Globe on Monday. “Whether the quota rise only went to certain importers, who knows?”

Aspidi’s membership includes 28 meat importers, about 80 percent of all such firms in Indonesia. About 90 percent of all meat imports are allocated to Aspidi members, Thomas said.

Kompas newspaper reported on Wednesday that Agriculture Minister Suswono announced an extra 22,000 tons in beef imports. Deputy Agriculture Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi confirmed the increase to the Globe on Monday but refused to disclose more details.

The government originally set this year’s import quota for beef at 50,000 tons, a sharp decrease from 120,000 tons in 2010. The ministry said the cut was part of a government plan to achieve beef self-sufficiency by 2014, but industry players complained that the government had not first secured domestic supplies.

According to Thomas, the ministry had issued import licenses for 28,000 tons of beef by the end of March, while the ministry’s quarantine agency had received 26,000 tons of beef by the end of the month.

According to Aspidi, the nation needs at least 98,000 tons of imported beef to meet demand.

“We have no buffer stock, so the government cannot intervene in the market,” Thomas said. “It is hard to forecast the price movement. First, we have to make sure there are supplies of beef for the next two months.”

Haniwar Syarih, the chairman of Nampa, also pleaded with the government to increase the quota.

“We submitted our proposal last week, but we have not received any news yet,” he said.

The only news Nampa has received of the quota increase, he said, was through local media reports.

Haniwar said he expected that Nampa woud be allowed to import at least 2,600 tons of beef over the rest of the first half of the year. Last week, he said several members of Nampa were ready to shut down their operations if no new supplies of beef came into the country.

Two Aspidi members have filed a lawsuit against the Agriculture Ministry’s quarantine agency, requesting the release of 25 containers of meat currently being held at Tanjung Priok port.