NZ hopes for Indonesian phytosanitary recognition

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NZ hopes for Indonesian phytosanitary recognition

With just over a month until Jakarta's Tanjung Priok port is due to be closed off for horticultural imports, the Indonesian government has been giving phytosanitary recognition to some exporting countries. So far Australia, Canada and the U.S. have made the grade, while New Zealand's Horticultural Export Authority (HEA) is hopeful it will join the list soon. However, it is still unclear whether this recognition would override the fruit and vegetable closure law for the countries concerned.

HEA CEO Simon Hegarty tells that Indonesian quarantine officials visited New Zealand earlier this month, but the industry is still waiting for recognition.

"They were testing out our systems here, and we were expecting they will be recognized as we export globally to over 100 countries around the world, so our SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary) systems are pretty rigorous," he says.

"The country recognition is really about the technical systems, and the port closure is due take place on Jun. 19. Whether the countries that have recognition for their technical systems are able to supply through the Port of Jakarta is very unclear."

Hegarty says Indonesia only accounts for around 1% of New Zealand's horticultural exports at NZ$25 million (US$19 million), predominantly with onions, kiwifruit and apples, but is nonetheless an important and growing market.

The closure regulation falls under decree 89, which would limit horticultural imports to the Tanjung Sea Port in Surabaya, the Belawan Sea Port in Medan, the Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta and the Makassar Sea Port.

However, several exporters are putting pressure on Indonesia to allowunder another law - decree 88 - that horticultural imports from SPS recognized countries can be allow in other ports, including the country's main fruit and vegetable import destination Tanjung Priok.

U.S. Northwest Horticultural Council vice president Mark Powers, tells the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) raised the option as a solution around the restrictions, but there is yet to be any definitive answer from Indonesian authorities.

"We’re still waiting and we're hopeful - Indonesia has recognized the systems of the United States, Canada, Australia and are in the process of evaluating New Zealand’s plant health and food safety systems.

"We still believe that the closure decree should be rescinded, however if that is not something that is possible, or politically acceptable in Indonesia, then some other kind of solution needs to be found, and if that is a recognition gives them the security they’re looking for, that at least solves the immediate problem of access."

"We’re certainly very concerned that with the absence of some kind of solution, our trade is going to fall off a cliff if we’re not able to access the port of Jakarta."

He adds the arrangement would not necessarily close the door for other countries, but they would need to gain SPS recognition.

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