Indonesia to issue import permits for 180,000 cattle

Tom Allard

July 9, 2011

INDONESIA has announced it will issue permits for the importation of 180,000 cattle and foreshadowed a campaign to upgrade the standards of its slaughterhouses.

The release of the permits for so many beasts just two days after Australia lifted its month-long suspension of the live cattle trade was welcomed by industry figures and surprised some insiders with its speed.

The suspension of the trade, worth $320 million last year, was prompted by disturbing footage obtained by activist group Animals Australia showing Australian cattle being mistreated in Indonesian abattoirs.

”We will improve all of our abattoirs,” said Indonesia’s Co-ordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Hatta Rajasa at a joint press conference with Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday.

”We, of course, would welcome the use of new devices that meet the halal standard. This is what we emphasised.” The comments suggest that Indonesia is prepared to allow a new influx of stun guns into its abattoirs, as long as they are halal.

That is, they don’t actually kill the cattle but render them unconscious before they are killed by a knife to the throat.

Mr Rudd welcomed the issuing of the import permits for 180,000 cattle. However, the quota will not be filled entirely with beasts from Australia. Indonesian importers have been actively looking for other countries to supply them with cattle since the ban was in place.

Mr Hatta played down any suggestions there had been a serious rupture in ties between the two nations. ”The bilateral relationship of two countries has ups and downs, just like a love story. But the spirit is that both countries will always stay together,” he said.

Under Australia’s new regime, export permits will be issued only to Australian transport ships that can prove the cattle will be sent to abattoirs that meet world standards and can be monitored closely.

Australia believes there are 25 abattoirs in Indonesia that meet world standards, although local importers believe the number could be as high as 35.

International animal welfare standards do not require that cattle be immobilised with stun guns before they are killed. Fewer than 10 Indonesian abattoirs use stun guns.

Following the issuing of the import permits and the end of Australia’s ban, major exporter Elders will likely begin bringing cattle to Indonesia on August 1.

However, other companies will take longer to obtain the necessary independent audit and organise the paperwork.

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