AUSTRALIAN cattle producers have welcomed the completion today of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (I-A CEPA), which eliminates of a number of meat and livestock tariffs.

Cattle Council of Australia CEO Margo Andrae said the significant existing relationship between Australia’s beef industry and Indonesia would be strengthened by the historic agreement.

“Beef is the cornerstone of Australia’s trade relationship with Indonesia. Live cattle exports and the growing boxed beef trade has secured Australia’s place as Indonesia’s largest supplier of red meat,” Ms Andrae said.

“Our beef relationship with Indonesia has acted as a building block for I-A CEPA, opening the door for better market access for other Australian farm exports like sheepmeat, dairy, sugar, fruit and vegetables.”

Ms Andrae said her engagement with Indonesian supply chain partners, whether while spending time in-market or in industry forums such as Indonesia Australia Red Meat and Cattle Partnership which met in Melbourne in the past fortnight, confirmed the significant benefits of the relationship for all stakeholders.

“This is a mutually beneficial partnership, linking producers, processors and exporters in Australia with importers, feedlot workers, retailers and consumers in Indonesia,” Ms Andrae said.

“This agreement is a win for cattle producing families and rural communities in Australia and the tens of thousands of Indonesians who work with Australian cattle and beef at the import end of the supply chain.”

I-A CEPA includes a quota for 575,000 live male cattle (with a 0 per cent in-quota tariff), growing by 4pc per annum over five years to 700,000 head. Annual cattle import permits will be issued without seasonal restrictions, with a review after five years to consider further increases. Restrictions for female cattle exports will be also eliminated.

Boxed beef tariffs will also be liberalised, either immediately or gradually. Exports where 0pc tariffs are not already applicable will benefit from either a 0pc or 2.5pc tariff on EIF (down from 5pc), with the tariffs being eliminated altogether over five years. Similar advantages will be extended to frozen offal.

In the past 12 months (ending January 2019), Australian cattle exports to Indonesia rose 15pc to 589,234, with chilled and frozen beef to Indonesia at 128,948 tonnes, a rise of 14pc.

Cattle Council president Tony Hegarty said improved trade access was a high priority for the industry, and especially so when droughts and floods have tested the confidence of producers.

“Cattle Council works closely with the Australian Government to ensure beef producers receive favourable outcomes when negotiating trade agreements because the future of our industry is heavily reliant on the competitiveness of our product in export markets,” Mr Hegarty said.

“On behalf of all producers, I acknowledge the significant work of the Australian and Indonesian governments and industry representatives who have secured this important agreement. It gives producers even more confidence about the ongoing partnership we have with our Indonesian customers in meeting their growing demand for clean, green Australian beef.”

Media contact: Tom Dawkins (0409 219 527)