NZ joins elite club for Port of Jakarta horticultural import access

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NZ joins elite club for Port of Jakarta horticultural import access

UPDATE - We have been informed that the South African government is now in discussions with their Indonesian counterparts to try and obtain a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA).

New Zealand has received a 'verbal confirmation' from Indonesian authorities that it has been granted country recognition for its phytosanitary systems, according to Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) CEO Simon Hegarty.

Hegarty told he expected a formal confirmation of the recognition would be received in the coming days, which would put the country on the "same footing" as Australia, Canada and the U.S.

It is believed the recognition agreements exempt these four countries from the closure of the seaport of Tanjung Priok in Jakarta for fruits and vegetables, which was due to take effect on Jun. 19. But the CEO says it is still all "a bit unclear".

"The country recognition is under a separate regulation to the port closure one, so that’s what has been a complicating factor.

"It is good news but there are still further hurdles down the track with regards to access to Indonesia."

For the Australian government the message is very clear, announcing the Indonesian government has decided to allow Australia continued access to the port.

The Australian government highlighted the importance of the Indonesian export market, with strong economic growth that bodes well for trade ties.

"Within Indonesia's regulatory requirements, we will continue to work closely with our Indonesian partners to build a strong and mutually beneficial trade in horticulture, as well as other agricultural products," said the country's agriculture and trade ministers in a joint statement.

"As neighbours, and increasingly close partners, Australia and Indonesia have much to gain from developing new, and expanding existing, trade opportunities."

U.S. Northwest Horticultural Council vice president Mark Powers confirmed with Capital Press that the U.S., Australia and Canada had continued access.

Other countries are now banned from shipping to the port and will need to enter via the Tanjung Sea Port in Surabaya, the Belawan Sea Port in Medan, the Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta, or the Makassar Sea Port.

"This looks for the time being to be a reasonable outcome for those four supplying countries, but not so good if you’re not one of the four," added Hegarty.

South Africa pushes for access

The South African fruit industry is not pleased with the Indonesian government's decision to prevent access to the port. Unichoice Produce Direct managing director Anton van Zyl tells the closure means exporters have to send to Surabaya, which offers limited shipping options.

"In Jakarta we had weekly options of 2-3 vessels a week, but for Surabaya it’s one vessel every 8-10 days and you then have to transport the fruit by land. Your produce pricing is affected by up to US$0.75 per carton," he says.

"The extra shipping cost is on average US$0.50 per carton and then there is the US$0.25 cost per carton for transportation to Jakarta.  We cannot increase the price a carton by this much so we will have to carry the additional costs. Obviously, it becomes a much less viable marketing option."

He says it takes 20 days to ship from Durban to Jakarta but the leg to Surabaya adds 3-4 days, which affects fruit quality. For van Zyl's company which exports grapes, oranges, lemons, easy peelers and nectarines, Indonesia is an increasingly significant market.

"We have been trying to grow Indonesia, it’s part of the Asian block which we see as important in the future. They have different fruit requirements from China, Europe and the U.K.

"They take fruit which is not so easily marketable, for example black seeded grapes and they are more tolerant about orange shape.

"Also with the economic crunch in Europe we are seeing demand going down. Asia is a market in U.S. dollars, which is attractive given the rand’s depreciation to the dollar."

Hortgro product manager Jacques du Preez says the Jakarta port closure is "illogical".

"It doesn’t make sense, they are closing one port but the other one is open.  The main center for selling fruit is around Jakarta. We have been lobbying about this and submitted our objections to the Javanese government last year.

"We do export some fruit to them and of course we don’t want the port closed."

Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum (FPEF) chief executive Anton Kruger is hopeful bilateral meeting in the first week of July between senior civil servants at South Africa’s Department of Agriculture Farms and Fisheries (DAFF) and their counterparts in Indonesia will pay off.

"We are hopeful that some progress will be made on this. The Government is acutely aware of the problem."

He says the meeting with Javanese authorities will involve both diplomatic and technical issues.

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