(Repeats report from late Friday; no change to text)
* Imports will still be monitored -trade minister
* Move will boost imports from suppliers such as Australia
* Indonesia to import 25,000 head of cattle within three
By Yayat Supriatna
JAKARTA, July 19 Indonesia will allow the
unlimited importation of live cattle in an effort to curb
domestic beef price rises, the country's trade minister said on
Friday, abandoning an annual import quota system that has hit
imports from suppliers such as Australia.
The move should boost the cattle and beef trade in
Australia, the world's No.3 beef exporter.
Canberra halted live cattle exports in 2011 after the airing
of footage showing harsh treatment of animals. The ban was
lifted, but Jakarta then imposed restrictions on Australian beef
and cattle imports in a bid to become self-sufficient.
The policies have hurt both sides with shortages and higher
prices in Indonesia, while Australia's northern cattle industry
has been in crisis, with weak meat prices and plunging land
values further hampered by a drought last summer.
"I have signed the new ready-to-slaughter cattle regulation
and we have allowed importers to import...with no limits, to
stabilise beef prices," Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan
"They can import at any volume or number that the market
needs," he added.
Earlier on Friday, Australia said that Indonesia was
increasing live cattle imports from the country by 25,000 head
of cattle over the next three months.
The Indonesian government would still the monitor timing and
volume of cattle and beef imports, in order to ensure domestic
beef prices are between 75,000-76,000 rupiah ($7.46-$7.55) per
kg, Wirjawan added. That would be down around a fifth from the
current national average price of 93,000 rupiah per kg.
Indonesia has been struggling to meet various 2014
self-sufficiency targets for food staples and has already said
its soybean and white sugar goals would not be met.
In a bid to promote its domestic beef market, Indonesia
slashed its import quota for live cattle by more than a third in
2012 and by another 30 percent for 2013. The beef import quota
was cut by nearly two-thirds in 2012 and by 6 percent for 2013.
Total beef import quotas for 2013 were set at 32,000 tonnes,
of which approximately 20 percent consisted of prime cuts. The
live cattle import quota was set at 267,000 head of cattle.
Indonesia has faced resistance from consumers over the
policy, however, after shortages drove up beef prices in Java
and were tied to a political scandal.
Earlier this year, a panel of government advisers urged for
the scrapping of food import quotas in Indonesia because they
encourage bribes and price spikes.
In order to protect the domestic livestock industry,
Wirjawan said that beef and cattle would only be imported if
local prices spike by more than 15 percent.
To meet the spike in demand for beef during Muslim holy
month of Ramadan and bring prices down to below 80,000 rupiah
($7.95) per kg, only an initial 25,000 head of cattle needed to
be imported, said Joni Liano, executive director of the
Indonesian Feedlot Association.
In late May, Indonesia relaxed restrictions on some imports
to contain domestic beef prices and prevent shortages during
Ramadan, when demand increases.
($1 = 10060.0000 Indonesian rupiah)
(Additional reporting by James Grubel in Canberra; Writing by
Michael Taylor; Editing by Ed Davies)