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Matthew Jones



Indonesia could face WTO panel

New Zealand and the US ramp-up calls for fairer trade conditions into South East Asian nation

Indonesia could face WTO panel

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Indonesia’s contentious quota system for fresh produce imports has again come under fire, with the US and New Zealand requesting the World Trade Organisation (WTO) set up a dispute-settlement panel to look into the restriction of trade into the Asian nation.

The US and New Zealand have worked closely together on the matter over the past two years, consulting with Indonesia in August 2013 and May 2014. The discussions involved the WTO and resulted in amendments to Indonesia’s import protocol, however, they have seemingly done little to appease foreign exporters.

According to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Indonesia’s current restrictions still prohibit the importation of horticultural products harvested more than six months ago. Selected fresh produce import lines are also banned when there is sufficient domestic production.

 “"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."

The import licensing regime took a US$122m toll on fresh fruit and vegetable exports from the US in 2014, according to Reuters. The news comes less than a month after Indonesia and New Zealand announced plans to boost bilateral trade following the 7th Indonesia-New Zealand Joint Ministerial Commission held in Auckland.

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