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Indonesia wants N. Zealand to close WTO dispute on food import restrictions

Jakarta Globe - May 20, 2024

Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – Indonesia is hoping that New Zealand drop the lawsuit over food import restrictions, arguing that Jakarta had already made adjustments according to what the international trade body had asked for.

In 2014, New Zealand sued Indonesia at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the Southeast Asian country's import restrictions on horticultural, animal, and animal products, including beef. The US also lodged a similar lawsuit.

The Muslim-majority Indonesia argued that its rules were necessary to protect the halal food standards. Indonesia said that the restrictions were also needed due to health concerns, and sought to deal with the temporary surpluses in the domestic markets.

New Zealand's lawsuit – also known by its code DS477 – saw the WTO panel ruling in favor of Wellington, saying that Indonesia's restrictions were inconsistent with the body's rules. Indonesia also lost the appeal to this case, prompting Jakarta to take corrective measures.

Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan recently met with New Zealand's Minister for Building and Construction Chris Penk in Peru. The talks took place on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting. According to a press release, the two ministers talked about the DS477 lawsuit, among other trade-related issues, during which Indonesia asked for a closure on the DS477 dispute.

"Indonesia is committed to implementing the rulings and recommendations by the WTO's dispute settlement body for the DS477 case," Zulkifli told Peck.

"But having considered the changes that Indonesia has made, we are hoping that New Zealand can close this case," Zulkifli said.

Over the years, Indonesia has been submitting reports of what Indonesia has done following the dispute settlement body's rulings. The latest report –issued last week– wrote that Indonesia had already removed the disputed measures by amending related ministerial regulations, including on import realization and domestic purchasing requirements.

Government data shows Indonesia-New Zealand bilateral trade reached $1.7 billion for 2023, down from $2.1 billion the previous year. Zulkifli attributed the decline to the fluctuating global good prices.

Both countries are aiming to boost the bilateral trade figures to $2.45 billion this year. Indonesia-New Zealand trade reached $409 million in January-March 2024. This was still lower than the $453.8 million they recorded in the same period last year.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/business/indonesia-wants-n-zealand-to-close-wto-dispute-on-food-import-restriction