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WTO Complaint Against Indonesia’s Import Restrictions on Farm Goods Advances

Monday, March 23, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The United States took the next step in its World Trade Organization complaint against Indonesia’s import restrictions on agricultural products March 18 by jointly requesting with New Zealand the formation of a dispute settlement panel. Consultations with Indonesia were held in January and August 2013 and May 2014, but the U.S. continues to claim that the measures at issue are inconsistent with WTO rules.

According to a press release from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Indonesia bans imports of poultry and certain meat products and imposes non-automatic import licensing regimes for horticultural products, animal products and other agricultural products. Affected products include fruits such as apples, grapes and oranges; vegetables such as potatoes, onions and shallots; dried fruits and vegetables; flowers; juices; cattle; beef, including secondary cuts; poultry, including chicken parts; and other animal products. USTR notes that in 2014 the U.S. exported about $122 million in horticultural products and about $63 million in animals and animal products to Indonesia but that “if it weren’t for Indonesia’s prohibitive policies, we would expect to have sold far more than that.”

Requests for WTO consultations on prior versions of these measures prompted Indonesia to replace and amend its import licensing requirements. Specifically, 18 products were removed from regulation, including garlic, garlic powder, chili powder, cabbage, chrysanthemum flowers, heliconia flowers, orchid flowers and several processed products, bringing the total of covered goods down to 39. The amended rules also prescribed a simplified procedure to apply for and receive import permits. However, the U.S. has argued that these and other more recent revisions did not remove the apparent WTO inconsistencies and introduced new restrictions.

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