U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman  announced on Wednesday that the United States has requested the World Trade Organization (WTO) establish a dispute settlement panel to examine Indonesia’s wide-ranging import restrictions on poultry, beef, and fruits and vegetables.  New Zealand, which has been working closely with the United States, on this issue,  has also requested the establishment of a WTO panel.  The disputed restrictions include a ban on poultry that has been in place for a number of years, as well as a variety of trade restrictive import licensing regimes for horticultural products and animals and animal products.

“American-grown agriculture exports are tremendously beneficial to the economy of America’s heartland,” said Froman.  “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.”

Indonesia, an increasingly important export market for many U.S. agricultural products, imported $200 million of U.S. agricultural products in 2014, but Froman said that figure would be considerably higher without the disputed restrictions.  If Indonesia lifted its poultry ban, it could open up a $100 million market for U.S. poultry products, according to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Since 2012, Indonesia has maintained unjustified and trade-restrictive licensing regimen, according to USTR.  Indonesia has amended its regimes several times, adding additional trade restrictive requirements.  The United States consulted with Indonesia in January 2013, and along with New Zealand, consulted again in August 2013 and in May 2014.  The request for the establishment of the WTO panel is the next step since Indonesia’s import licensing regimes and related measures appear to be inconsistent with its WTO obligations.