JAKARTA: Indonesia and Australia said today they were targeting a 36% rise in bilateral
trade to US$15 billion by 2015, and are set to launch a scheme to improve the treatment of live cattle imports by Indonesian farmers after an outcry last year.
Indonesia expects economic growth of around 6.5 % this year and robust growth is likely to continue, helped by a bounty of natural resources and an expanding middle class. Southeast Asia’s largest economy has also recently been restored to investment grade after 14 years by two rating agencies.
Trade between the two countries currently stands at about US$11 billion, Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan (picture left) said after meeting with his counterpart Craig Emerson in Jakarta.
“There is no reason for us not to be able to increase that number to a much higher number,” Wirjawan said. “The opportunity is there for both of us.”
The countries will launch a US$20 million six-year scheme aimed at training Indonesian small farmers in cattle management, health and feeding practices.
Australia suspended live cattle exports to Indonesia for a month last year after a video showing cows being beaten and whipped before slaughter was aired on Australian television.
The footage outraged many Australians while the government response angered farmers who said the move jeopardised Australian jobs.
Late last month, Australia said it would investigate new images appearing to show cattle being mistreated at an Indonesian abattoir, and could re-impose an export ban on the slaughterhouse if it broke animal welfare rules.
Increasing beef exports was only in Australia’s interest, said Emerson, adding that his delegation was not in Jakarta to discuss quotas for live cattle imports.
“Gita has told the business delegation that average beef consumption by Indonesians is 2kg per person (per year),” he said. “If that 2 kg could be increased to 20 kg, that would be a massive increase in total demand.”
Australia’s beef cattle herd is some 28 million head, of which live cattle exports represent around 800,000 head. About 500,000 go to Indonesia.