Pressure on Indonesia to ease ag import restrictions
New Zealand has joined a dispute filed by the United States in the World Trade Organization challenging Indonesia’s restrictions on imports of horticultural products, animals, and animal products.
The United States is also filing a revised consultations request with the WTO to address recent modifications to Indonesia’s measures and facilitate coordination with co-complainant New Zealand.
“Consultations with Indonesia earlier this year failed to resolve our concerns with Indonesia’s unjustified and trade-restrictive import licensing system,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in a statement. “To the contrary, although Indonesia has revised its measures, they continue to pose a serious impediment to U.S. agricultural exports.”
Froman said he is “pleased that New Zealand, which is similarly harmed by Indonesia’s restrictions, has decided to join the dispute by filing its own request for consultations.”
Indonesia has adopted non-automatic import licensing requirements and quotas that impede trade in horticultural products, animals, and animal products. As set out in the U.S. request for consultations, these measures appear to be inconsistent with Indonesia’s WTO obligations, including under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT 1994), Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures, the Agreement on Agriculture, and the Agreement on Preshipment Inspection.
Since the United States filed its original consultations request with Indonesia in January, Indonesia has revised its import licensing and quota measures. These changes, however, did not remove the trade restrictions and failed to address U.S. concerns. Instead, Indonesia’s revised measures include new laws on food, beef, and other agricultural products that contain further import-restrictive provisions. The affected products include, but are not limited to, fruits, vegetables, flowers, dried fruits and vegetables, juices, cattle, beef, and other animal products.
Filing a revised consultations request by the United States, in coordination with New Zealand’s filing, will allow the consultations with Indonesia to be held together. If the United States and New Zealand subsequently were to request the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel, the two disputes would be adjudicated before a single panel.