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Cattle industry awaits permits from Indonesia as zero shipments leave Darwin Port in January

ABC News - February 1, 2024

Matt Brann – Northern Australia's live export trade to Indonesia is in limbo as the cattle industry waits for its biggest market to issue import permits for 2024.

The Darwin Port says after a record-breaking December where 55,159 head of cattle were exported, there have been zero cattle shipped so far in 2024.

Cattle exporter Patrick Underwood has flown to Indonesia this week and says the situation is concerning.

"I'm in Jakarta meeting with importers and the embassy and just trying to understand where these permits are because there's a definite need for them," he said.

"We're starting to head towards the Indonesian presidential election on February 14, so there's a little bit of a concern that if we miss the next couple of days [to get permits] then we're in the lead-up to the election.

"These permits require a signature from the Indonesian trade minister, so we're relying on a minister's signature [during an election period] and it's of great concern."

Mr Underwood said the delay was "definitely hurting" some exporters and importers, but overall the trade was lucky the situation was happening during an exceptionally wet month in northern Australia.

"To be frank, if we were trying to do a cattle ship last week or this week we'd struggle with supply," he said.

"It's very frustrating though, because if we knew there was a date [to get permits] we could plan towards it. But as it is, we need to stay prepared and stay ready."

ABC Rural understands there are a few thousand cattle held up in yards around the Nothern Territory's Top End, and there are two live export vessels, Brahman Express and Nine Eagle, anchored off Darwin waiting for the permit issue to be resolved.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, the last time the Darwin Port had a month with no cattle exports was back in March 1990 – 34 years ago.

Mr Underwood said it was not just Australian live cattle exports waiting for import permits. "Meat, cattle, horticulture and other products from Australia and other countries [are waiting for permits]," he said.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2024-02-01/zero-cattle-exported-from-darwin-awaiting-indonesian-permit-2024/10341058