US, NZealand take farm trade row to WTO


WASHINGTON, D.C.: The United States and New Zealand have taken their farm trade disputes with Indonesia to the World Trade Organization (WTO), US officials said on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).

US Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman said the WTO had been asked to set up a dispute settlement panel to look at Indonesia’s wide-ranging import restrictions on fruits and vegetables, such as apples and potatoes; animal products including beef and poultry, and other agricultural products.

“I’m proud to take this action today standing up on behalf of farmers and ranchers across the United States who have been shouldering unfair export barriers to the fourth-largest country in the world, Indonesia,” Froman said in a statement.

Among the measures taken by Indonesia, the fourth most-populous country, since 2012 is a ban on poultry and certain meat products and trade-restrictive import licensing regimes for horticultural products and animals and animal products, the USTR said.

“Indonesia appears to have acted inconsistently with its WTO obligations” through its restrictive import measures, the trade office said.

It said the US has been working closely with New Zealand in the dispute, and that New Zealand was also requesting a WTO panel to examine Indonesia’s import restrictions.

The US consulted with Indonesia about the measures in January 2013, and, working with New Zealand, consulted again in August 2013 and May 2014.

“USTR and USDA have worked over the past two years to hold Indonesia to its trade commitments,” said Tom Vilsack, secretary of the US Department of Agriculture.

“When our trading partners don’t play by the rules it costs American jobs, so it is critical we hold them accountable.”

US exports affected by Indonesia’s import licensing regimes totaled about $385 million in 2014, according to the trade office.



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