June 8 (Bloomberg) — Indonesia, Asia’s third-most populous country, lifted a ban on imports of beef from New Zealand after clerics clarified that the meat conforms to Islamic dietary laws.
“We have received a letter today from the director general of livestock at the Ministry of Agriculture saying he has lifted the ban,” Thomas Sembiring, executive director of the Indonesian Meat Importer Association, said by telephone.
Tjeppy Soedjana, Indonesia’s director general of livestock, confirmed the decision in a text message to Bloomberg News when asked about the cancellation of the import ban.
Indonesia banned imports of beef from New Zealand after the Council of Ulemas, or MUI, said in March it doesn’t recognize any certifying bodies in New Zealand that can give an assurance that the meat is halal, or conforms to Islamic dietary laws, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said June 4.
“MUI issued a letter last Friday to clarify that until the new halal certification rules are put into effect on Oct. 1, all imported beef from Australia and New Zealand that were slaughtered before and after March 25 are halal,” Sembiring said today, citing the letter from the MUI.
Muhammad Nadratuzzaman Hosen, director at MUI, could not be reached when called at his office to confirm the letter.
Australia and New Zealand are the two biggest suppliers of beef and beef products to Indonesia. The nation imports more than 60,000 metric tons of beef from the two countries annually, Sembiring said.
Indonesia on July 7 last year banned imports of New Zealand beef over what it said was improper labeling. The ban was lifted a week later after New Zealand’s promise to improve packaging.
The Southeast Asian nation, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, imports beef to supplement local output.
To contact the reporters on this story: Yoga Rusmana in Jakarta at [email protected].
By Yoga Rusmana