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Ludwig in Jakarta to discuss live export ban

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Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig is in Jakarta this week to meet with his Indonesian counterpart over Australia’s suspension of live cattle exports. The suspension followed Four Corners’ revelations of cattle being treated cruelly and abhorrent slaughtering practices in several Indonesian abattoirs. Despite Indonesian anger over the ‘knee-jerk’ response to the program, Ludwig vows the Government is committed to cooperating with Indonesia over the issue. "Indonesia is one of our closest trading partners. It is a relationship of tremendous importance to Australia." The two countries have been negotiating on the matter for over a week, but it is understood little progress has been made. A planned joint Indonesian and Australian veterinary inspection of suspect abattoirs has not yet gone ahead. No agreement has been reached on new animal welfare standards, but Ludwig reported the talks were positive. Trade won’t resume until animal welfare is guaranteed, the minister told reporters. "As soon as the supply chain assurance can be put in place by individual companies we can recommence the trade." Ludwig confirmed Australia will encourage but not insist upon Indonesia stunning cattle before commencing slaughter. A senior Indonesian diplomat told The Australian that wrongly handled, the export ban could lead to a tit-for-tat trade war. "As a country that is different in standards, facilities and infrastructure from Australia, this will take time (to repair)," he said. "I think it’s good this happened but it has opened a Pandora’s box and I hope it doesn’t backfire in terms of Australian food on our shelves." Indonesian agricultural minister Suswono has expressed his anger that Ludwig didn’t raise cruelty to animals in his March visit to Jakarta to discuss the live cattle trade. Indonesia has alleged it was on the agenda for ministerial talks but was dropped due to "other priorities" when Australian industry leaders assured Jakarta the issue was under control. Meanwhile, two bills have been introduced into Australian parliament to cease the trade in live exports permanently. This has raised the ire of cattle farmers, who are pressuring the government to lift the ban, fearing a live export ban will destroy the meat industry.

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