US claims victory in Indonesia food trade dispute

Indonesian authorities, who limited agricultural imports from the United States, argued a need to protect consumers from foods that may not meet Muslim halal dieteray standards

The United States on Thursday claimed victory in a long-running trade dispute with Indonesia over import restrictions on meat, fruits and vegetables.

The World Trade Organization ruled that Indonesia's limits on imports of horticultural and animal goods from the United States and New Zealand violate the body's trade rules. That decision upheld the preliminary ruling.

Indonesian authorities had argued that they needed to protect consumers from foods that may not meet Muslim halal dietary standards, but the WTO ruled the government had not provided evidence to support this concern.

"This is a resounding victory for the United States that should result in increased export opportunities for US farmers and ranchers, as well as Indonesian consumer access to high-quality US agricultural products," US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.

"This is a complete victory for the United States and its co-complainant New Zealand."

US exports to Indonesia affected by the import licensing rules totaled $170 million last year.

The WTO established a dispute-settlement panel in 2015 to examine the US complaint, and ruled in Washington's favor in December. Indonesia appealed the decision in February.

In 2016, Indonesia was the ninth-largest destination for US agricultural goods, taking in $2.6 billion in goods, according to USTR. The country was the eighth-largest source for US agricultural imports, shipping $2.8 billion in goods to the United States.