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Despite BSE Ban in Thailand and Partial Ban in Indonesia, Global Market Access Situation Encouraging

The global reaction to this week’s BSE announcement remains very encouraging, as no change in market access for U.S. beef has been announced in any foreign markets except Indonesia and Thailand. Indonesia’s deputy agriculture minister has stated that his country is imposing an import ban on U.S. beef variety meat, bone-in muscle cuts, meat and bone meal (MBM) and gelatin from bones. According to the newly updated FSIS Export Library, only boneless beef is eligible for export to Indonesia unless the bill of lading date is on or before April 24, 2012. While the announcement by Indonesia is disappointing, it is important to view it in the context of recent events. Indonesia has been engaged in a very aggressive policy initiative to bolster its domestic beef production, drastically reducing the flow of imported beef into the country in 2012 – not only from the United States, but from all of its major beef suppliers. (Indonesia reduced its import quota allocation to just 34,000 mt for 2012, compared to actual imports of about 100,000 mt in 2011.) Through February, U.S. beef plus beef variety meat exports to Indonesia were down 84 percent in volume and 71 percent in value compared to the same period last year. Global Trade Atlas data also reflect lower exports from Indonesia’s primary suppliers: Australia (down 27 percent) and New Zealand (down 59 percent). In addition, Indonesia reduced its import quota for live cattle (mainly from Australia) to 285,000 head compared to a 520,000 head quota last year. In summary, Indonesia already had placed severe restrictions on beef and cattle imports before the BSE case was announced. USMEF does not view Indonesia’s decision as any indication of a trend toward new BSE-related market access restrictions in other countries. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk called for swift resolution of the latest trade impasse with Indonesia. Speaking today at a news conference in Singapore, Kirk said there was no reason to fear an international spread of BSE. “There’s been no evidence (in) this one reported instance that any contaminated product has entered our food chain or any international food chain,” he said. “There is no reason, from my understanding of the analysis, for any consumer to be concerned about the consumption of U.S. beef. Thus we would expect that Indonesia would quickly reopen its market for its consumers for U.S. beef products.” USMEF learned Friday that Thailand has also announced a temporary suspension of U.S. beef imports. Because U.S. exports to Thailand were already limited to boneless beef from cattle under 30 months of age, this appears to be a complete suspension of beef trade. The FSIS Export Library is not yet updated for Thailand, but USMEF will advise exporters as soon as more information is available regarding product already en route to Thailand and other key details. In 2011, Thailand was a $1.2 million market for U.S. beef. Thailand’s total beef imports were valued at $61.67 million – with India as the primary supplier, followed by Australia and New Zealand.