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WTO rejects Indonesia appeal on import restrictions

14 November 2017

The World Trade Organisation, after 3 ½ years of discussions, has reached a conclusion on the appeal of import restrictions being imposed by Indonesia.

In 2014, New Zealand was the first country to request consultation with Indonesia regarding its import restrictions on horticultural products, animals and animal products, claiming that the restrictions were inconsistent with WTO regulation:

• Articles III:4, X:1 and XI:1 of the GATT 1994;
• Article 4.2 of the Agreement on Agriculture;
• Articles 1.2, 1.5, 1.6, 2.2, 3.2, 3.3, 5.1 and 5.2 of the Import Licensing Agreement; and
• Articles 2.1 and 2.15 of the Agreement on Preshipment Inspection.

Since New Zealand’s request, it has been joined by the United States, Australia, Canada, the European Union, Chinese Taipei and Thailand in the consultations.

In March 2015, New Zealand requested the establishment of a panel, but at its meeting in April that year, the DSB deferred this process. Later that year, New Zealand and the United States requested that the Director-General compose the panel, and a month later, on October 8th, the panel was composed and the panel report released to its members.

In February of this year (2017), Indonesia notified the Dispute Settlement Board (DSB) of its decision to appeal to the Appellate Body certain issues of law and legal interpretations in the panel report.

Due to the number and complexity of the issues raised in the dispute, and due to staffing shortages within the WTO Secretariat, the Appellate Body announced that it could not circulate its report to members until November 9th 2017.

Last week, the Appellate Body eventually circulated the report to its members in which it rejects Indonesia’s appeal on the panel report, and finds that Indonesia’s import restrictions for horticultural products and animals and animal products are against WTO regulations. Within the report, it is stated that 18 Indonesian import restriction measures were inconsistent with WTO obligations, and are not sanctioned by WTO.

This news comes as a great relief to many producers that have missed out on valuable export opportunities to Indonesia – a massive nation, and an important market for exports.

 

To read more about the Appellate Body issues report regarding Indonesian import restrictions, click here



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