Officials ask for review of Indonesia's restrictions on US exports

Top Obama administration officials said Wednesday that they have asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to examine Indonesia’s import restrictions on a wide variety of U.S. agricultural products.  

U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael B.G. FromanUS trade rep spent nearly M to furnish offices: report Overnight Finance: Trump hits China on currency manipulation, countering Treasury | Trump taps two for Fed board | Tax deadline revives fight over GOP overhaul | Justices set to hear online sales tax case Froman joins Mastercard to oversee global business expansion MORE announced the request that the WTO establish a dispute settlement panel to evaluate Indonesia's trade barriers on U.S. exports fruits, vegetables, beef and poultry.

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"I’m proud to take this action today standing up on behalf of farmers and ranchers across the United States who have been shouldering unfair export barriers to the fourth largest country in the world, Indonesia," Froman said.

"This announcement comes at a time when the Obama administration is fighting to unlock other economic opportunities for American agricultural exporters across the Asia-Pacific region through the Trans-Pacific Partnership."

The United States has been working closely with New Zealand in this dispute, and New Zealand is also requesting the establishment of a WTO panel to examine Indonesia’s import restrictions.

“USTR and USDA have worked over the past two years to hold Indonesia to its trade commitments," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

"When our trading partners don’t play by the rules it costs American jobs, so it is critical we hold them accountable," he said.

Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world and is becoming a more important export market for many U.S. agricultural products.  

Since 2012, Indonesia has maintained licensing regimes on a wide variety of U.S. products and has added several restrictions in the past couple of years.

The United States consulted with Indonesia in January 2013, in August 2013 and again in May 2014.  

U.S. agricultural products affected by Indonesia’s import licensing regimes and related prohibitions and restrictions include apples, grapes and oranges, potatoes and onions, flowers, cattle and poultry.