United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced late last week that the United States is requesting consultations with Indonesia under the dispute settlement provisions of the World Trade Organization concerning trade-restrictive measures applied to horticultural products, animals, and animal products.
According to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Indonesia has created import licensing requirements that unfairly restrict U.S. exports, and they appear to be designed to protect Indonesia's domestic agriculture industry.
"Indonesia's opaque and complex import licensing system affects a wide range of American agricultural exports. It has become a serious impediment to U.S. agricultural exports entering Indonesia, reducing Indonesian consumers' access to high-quality U.S. products," Kirk said.
Indonesia passed regulations in late 2011 to establish import licensing requirements for horticultural products. The requirements were then revised in 2012 to include stricter standards for fruits, vegetables, flowers, dried fruits, vegetables and juices.
Now, the U.S. complaint also alleges restrictions on animals and animal products. Through its measures establishing and administering these non-automatic import licensing requirements, the U.S. says Indonesia appears to have acted inconsistently with several of its WTO obligations, including under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures, and the Agreement on Agriculture.
WTO consultations are the first step in the dispute settlement process. Under WTO rules, if the matter is not resolved through consultations within 60 days, the United States may request the establishment of a WTO dispute settlement panel.
"The Obama Administration is committed to protecting the rights of our growers, farmers, ranchers and processors to compete on a level playing field. We will continue to make clear to our trading partners that we will fight to support each job here at home affected by unfair restrictions abroad," Kirk said.