STC Number - 330

Indonesia's port closures

Maintained by: Indonesia
Raised by: China; European Union; New Zealand; United States of America
Supported by: Argentina; Australia; Canada; Chile; Japan; Korea, Republic of; South Africa; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; Uruguay
First date raised: March 2012 G/SPS/R/66 paras. 19-25
Dates subsequently raised: July 2012 (G/SPS/R/67 paras. 49-55)
October 2012 (G/SPS/R/69 paras. 45-48)
March 2013 (G/SPS/R/70 paras. 3.40-3.43)
June 2013 (G/SPS/R/71 paras. 4.39-4.43)
October 2013 (G/SPS/R/73 paras. 3.26-3.29)
July 2014 (G/SPS/R/75 paras 4.19-4.22)
March 2015 (G/SPS/R/78 paras 3.44-3.46)
Number of times subsequently raised: 7
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/IDN/48 G/SPS/N/IDN/49 G/SPS/N/IDN/53 G/SPS/N/IDN/54 G/SPS/N/IDN/54/Corr.1 G/SPS/N/IDN/58
Products covered:
Primary subject keyword: Plant Health
Keywords: Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures; Food safety; Plant health
Status: Partially resolved
Solution: Partial resolution applies only to the United States.
Date reported as resolved: 16/10/2013

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In March 2012, the United States raised concerns about Indonesia's plan to close several entry ports for imports of fruit and vegetables, including the main port of Jakarta (Tanjung Priok), originally scheduled for 19 March, but postponed until 19 June 2012. The port closure would threaten 90% of fresh fruit and vegetable exports to Indonesia, and the measure was not done in a transparent manner. The United States indicated its willingness to work with Indonesia to resolve any legitimate phytosanitary concerns Indonesia had with respect to fruit and vegetable imports, while also facilitating trade in these products. The United States urged Indonesia to notify these trade restrictions to the Committee and to provide scientific evidence to support them.
The European Union agreed that unnecessary trade disruption would occur from the port closure and recalled that any SPS measure should be no more trade restrictive than required and in line with the SPS Agreement. The European Union similarly encouraged Indonesia to notify its draft measures to the WTO and to allow sufficient time for formal comments from trading partners and related discussions.
Australia also expressed concerns with Indonesia's revised horticultural regulation, which was of major commercial interest to Australian exporters, and indicated its willingness to work collaboratively with Indonesia to resolve this issue. Chile indicated that it was closely following the concern and awaited the notification of Indonesia in order to work bilaterally on the issue. South Africa joined with other Members to request that Indonesia notify this regulation to the Committee with the necessary reasoning and documentation. South Africa indicated its willingness to cooperate with Indonesia to find a solution
Canada voiced concern that similar port closures could occur in the future for other commodities, for example, food of animal origin, which could have a negative impact on Canada's exports to Indonesia.
New Zealand noted particular concerns that the Jakarta seaport had not been included on the list of accepted entry points as 90% of NZ horticulture exports entered through that port. The port closures would result in higher costs and longer transport times, affecting the quality, value and shelf life of the perishable horticultural products. New Zealand requested justification for the implementation of this regulation and while noting Indonesia's comments regarding port capacity, observed that restricting the number of ports for horticulture imports would compound the problem by diverting trade to fewer and smaller ports. Although the delay in the implementation of the regulations was welcomed, New Zealand requested that the regulations be rescinded as trade to Indonesia would otherwise not be viable. New Zealand looked forward to working constructively with Indonesia and highlighted the need for a transparent approach.
Indonesia reported that the Ministry of Agriculture had published new regulations No. 15 and No. 16 of 2012, which postponed the enforcement of regulations No. 89 and No. 90 from 19 March until 19 June 2012. The postponement of enforcement of the regulations was in order to provide sufficient time for stakeholders and trading partners to set up infrastructure such as warehouses, cold storage and transportation, so as to prevent distortion in the distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables. Both new regulations provided specific policies for several ports. As of 19 June 2012, all horticulture products should only enter through four ports -- the Belawan Sea Port in Medan, Makassar Sea Port, Tanjung Sea Port in Surabaya and Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta -- and should no longer enter through the Port of Jakarta (Tanjun Priok). The rationale for these new regulations was based on: (i) the identification of 19 cases threatening Indonesia's agriculture by the quarantine inspection and food security at Tanjung Priok; (ii) the limited ability of the quarantine and food safety laboratory to conduct examinations at Tanjung Priok; (iii) the absence of quarantine installations at entry ports; and (iv) inadequate number of quarantine inspectors in relation to the number of products to be examined. Indonesia indicated that it would notify and circulate the regulation as soon as possible.

In July 2012, New Zealand reported on fruitful discussions with Indonesia that had addressed and resolved some of the concerns related to the importation of NZ horticultural products. Indonesia should provide better clarity about its trade measures that may affect agricultural products through timely notifications under the relevant WTO agreements, and engage in consultations on these regulations with relevant WTO Members.
South Africa supported the request that regulations pertaining to the closure of the port be notified to the WTO. Indonesia's notification about the regulations in May 2012, however, did not provide a specific timeframe for Members to comment before the regulations were implemented on 19 June 2012. South Africa had nonetheless provided comments on the regulations, but received no response from Indonesia. Indonesia was also asked to clarify media reports on the reinstatement of imports through Jakarta harbour for products from some Members, and to elaborate on what basis the exemption was made. South Africa wished to discuss the matter with Indonesia bilaterally on an urgent basis, in light of the start of South Africa's export season.
The European Union shared the concerns raised by New Zealand and stated that despite the new regulations implemented by Indonesia to open up additional ports for imports, the situation had not improved significantly. Indonesia had granted a few countries preferential access to the main entry port of Jakarta based on country recognition, but had not granted such access to the European Union despite its high food safety and plant health standards. This was clearly a trade restrictive measure and it created a competitive disadvantage for EU exporters as bringing fruits and vegetables via other ports meant longer travel times, increasing costs and raised difficulties for the quality of the highly perishable products. Additionally, the measure had not been notified to the WTO. The European Union urged Indonesia to lift the unnecessarily trade restrictive measures and to implement measures in line with the SPS Agreement, including giving advance notification through the SPS notification system, allowing comments and allowing sufficient time for economic operators to adapt to any new measures.
Japan expressed interest on the measures related to the port closure put in place by Indonesia and stated its willingness to work closely with the Indonesian government on this issue. Australia shared New Zealand's concerns and thanked Indonesia for its constructive bilateral engagement on a range of SPS-related issues. Australia also encouraged Indonesia to notify all measures to the relevant WTO Committees. Korea also supported the concerns raised by New Zealand and welcomed Indonesia's recent decision to postpone the implementation of the new import regulation on horticultural products until September. Korea sought bilateral discussions with Indonesia to find a solution.
Indonesia clarified that the previous regulations of concern had been revoked and replaced by the decrees of the Ministry of Agriculture No 42/2012 and 43/2012, which had been notified to the WTO in July 2012 (G/SPS/N/IDN/53, G/SPS/N/IDN/54 and G/SPS/N/IDN/54/Corr.1). These concerned plant quarantine actions for the import of certain fresh fruits and/or fresh vegetables, and fresh plant products in the form of fresh bulb vegetables, into the territory of Indonesia effective 19 June 2012. Since the March 2012 SPS Committee meeting, Indonesia had conducted constructive bilateral and technical meetings in Jakarta with interested Members and had addressed most of the issues bilaterally, but remained open for further bilateral discussions.

In October 2012, China expressed concern with Indonesia's amended plant quarantine measures for the importation of fresh fruits and vegetables, which entered into force in June 2012 and was notified to the WTO in July 2012. The requirements included the accreditation of food safety and control systems and the designation of four ports - not including Jakarta's Tanjung Priok sea port - for entry of fruits and vegetables. The restriction on use of Indonesia's major trading ports would negatively impact trade with China, as 90% of Chinese fruit and vegetable exports entered Indonesia through Jakarta. China had a long history of trade in fruits and vegetables with Indonesia and its regulatory system monitored risks from fruit and vegetable exports. China questioned the scientific justification for the measure, as the pests highlighted by Indonesia did not occur in China. The international practice was for the importing country to first strengthen its inspection system at ports of entry to ensure the safety of imported food and vegetables, before implementing a process to accredit the food safety control systems of the exporting country. China had submitted a formal application for accreditation of its food safety control system and encouraged Indonesia to schedule an inspection visit to review China's quarantine systems.
The European Union echoed China's concern with Indonesia's restrictive quarantine measures for the import of fresh fruits and vegetables, and fresh plant products in the form of fresh bulbs. At the last WTO SPS Committee, Indonesia had stated that it had addressed most of the issues bilaterally and had provided access to the main entry port of Jakarta to a number of countries based on country recognition. Only a limited number of countries had been granted preferential access to Indonesia, while other countries could only use a limited number of entry ports and remained excluded from using the main port in Jakarta. Despite bilateral discussions with Indonesia, EU exports remained unnecessarily blocked or exposed to higher costs, and Indonesia had provided no justification for these trade restrictive measures and the discriminatory preferential access. The European Union urged Indonesia to lift the unnecessarily trade restrictive measures and to implement measures in line with the SPS Agreement, including giving advance notification, so that comments of trading partners could be taken into account before trade disruptive measures were imposed.
Thailand echoed the concerns of China and the European Union, indicating that it was a major exporter of fruits and vegetables to Indonesia and that its exports had been negatively affected. Thailand requested Indonesia to remove the measure in order to minimize barriers and strengthen trade.
Indonesia recognized that the publication of its Ministry of Agriculture Regulation No 42/2012 and 43/2012 had raised concerns among some Members regarding the limitation of ports of entry for certain fresh fruits and vegetables, and fresh plant products in the form of fresh bulb vegetables. Indonesia had not closed its ports for the importation of horticulture products, but was seeking to prevent the spread of plant diseases and pests through effective management and regulation. Its largest sea port, Tanjung Priok, did not have appropriate facilities to implement quarantine measures such as the physical examination and detention of horticultural products. To prevent the spread of plant diseases and pests, and given the high volume of activity at Tanjung Priok, imports had been re-routed to other ports which had the requisite infrastructure. These ports were Belawan Sea Port in Medan, Makassar Sea Port, Tanjung Sea Port in Surabaya and Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta. Indonesia was taking measures to improve the quarantine installation facility in Tanjung Priok, including by establishing an integrated system between the quarantine, customs and other relevant agencies; developing and improving existing infrastructure to accommodate imported commodities in the port area during quarantine inspections; and providing specifically for the entry and exit of containers. The first stage of this improvement programme should be finished by the end of 2013. These comprehensive steps were deemed necessary based on the results of a 2010-2011 assessment carried out by plant quarantine officials, which identified 15 exotic plant diseases that never previously existed in Indonesia. In most cases these plant diseases were found in horticulture products entering Tanjung Priok port. Indonesia remained concerned about the increasing number of interceptions that posed a serious threat to its plant and consumer protection.

In March 2013, China expressed concern with Indonesian Regulations 89, 90, 42 and 43 (G/SPS/N/IDN/48, G/SPS/N/IDN/49, G/SPS/N/IDN/53, G/SPS/N/IDN/54), issued in December 2011, that revised the inspection and quarantine measures for imported fresh fruits and vegetables. The regulations required accreditation of food safety and control systems and permitted the entry of fresh fruit and vegetables only through four specific Indonesian ports that did not include the Priok Sea port of Jakarta. This restriction negatively affected trade with China, as 90% of Chinese fruit and vegetable exports to Indonesia, entered through Jakarta. China also voiced concern regarding Decrees No. 30 and No. 60 (G/SPS/N/IDN/58), issued in 2012 that required a safety licence, issued by the Ministry of Trade, for the import of certain fruit and vegetable products. Since Indonesia had delayed the granting of these licences, the export of Chinese agricultural products to Indonesia had experienced a sharp decline. The Ministry of Trade of Indonesia had also restricted the import volume licence and required that fruit and vegetable products be inspected at the ports of the country of origin before exporting. From August to November 2012, China had invited Indonesia four times to verify the Chinese inspection and quarantine safety system. Indonesia had systematically requested investigations of the pest-free area for fruit flies of garlic in China. Given that garlic is not a host of fruit flies, China invited Indonesia to verify its inspection system more generally, not limiting the investigation to garlic. In December 2012, Indonesia responded that it would not conduct an investigation in China without feedback on the proposed investigation on fruit flies in garlic. China had successfully established a safety system for the export of fruit and vegetables, and exported fruit to over 18 countries, including the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan. China hoped that both sides would further strengthen their inspection services under the framework of the SPS Consultation and Co-operation Memorandum of Understanding that China and Indonesia had signed in December 2008, and quickly resolve the inspection and quarantine problem.
The European Union supported the concern raised by China, highlighting that the denial of access to the port of Jakarta significantly increased the costs of exports to Indonesia. Indonesia justified its measure by stating that it had found an increasing number of interceptions that posed a serious threat to its plant and consumer protection, however, Indonesia had never reported interceptions on any EU products. Despite several bilateral discussions with Indonesia, the European Union had not received any clarification that would justify these trade restrictive measures or explain the discriminatory preferential access to the port of Jakarta for only a few countries. The European Union urged Indonesia to lift these unnecessarily trade restrictive measures without delay, and to only set SPS measures with a view to minimize any negative trade effects in a non-discriminatory manner.
Argentina, Chile, Korea, Chinese Taipei and Uruguay also reported that the port closure was affecting their trade and stated their willingness to hold consultations with Indonesia to find a swift solution on this matter. Chile indicated that it had provided Indonesia with the necessary information to confirm that its products were free from fruit flies and other pests, but had not received any response. Argentina noted that this issue should be solved as swiftly as possible as the concerned products (fruits) were seasonal and perishable products.
Indonesia highlighted its strong bilateral trade ties with China and emphasized that China represented the biggest supplier of agricultural products to Indonesia. The Indonesian government was still in the process of developing port infrastructure in Jakarta, including inspection facilities for quarantine and custom agencies. The new inspection system should be finalized by the end of this year and in the meantime trading partners should use the other specified ports after fulfilling the required food safety investigation and certification procedures. Indonesia urged Members to get information on how to obtain accreditation through their embassies in Jakarta.

In June 2013, China expressed concern with Indonesia's plant inspection and quarantine measures for fresh fruit and vegetables that required inspection before export, access into the country only through minor ports and quota restrictions. China had established an inspection and quarantine supervision system for its exported fruit and vegetables and had never received any indication from Indonesia with regard to pest problems in Chinese fruit. Jakarta's port closure increased transport costs, affected the preservation of the products and reduced market competitiveness. China asked Indonesia to cancel the requirement of third party inspection after mutual recognition of the newly established supervision system carried out by competent authorities of China and Indonesia. China also encouraged Indonesia to implement the agreement signed by both parties in Jakarta in May 2013 and to conduct field investigations to grant certification for eight kinds of fruit and vegetable products. Finally, China requested that Indonesia eliminate the quotas for fruit and vegetable products from China, to promote smooth development of trade between the two countries.
The European Union shared the concerns raised by China, highlighting that Jakarta's port closure significantly increased the costs of exports to Indonesia. Indonesia had claimed that its measure was justified by interceptions that posed a serious threat to its plant and consumer protection, however, Indonesia had never reported interceptions on any EU products. Despite several bilateral discussions, the European Union had not received any clarification that would justify Indonesia's trade restrictive measures or explain the discriminatory preferential access to the port of Jakarta. The European Union therefore urged Indonesia to lift these unjustified and discriminatory restrictions on EU products.
South Africa also shared China's concerns that Jakarta's port closure and the mandatory use of SGS certification hampered trade flows into Indonesia and increased transport and certification costs. Despite submitting all required information with regard to the safety of its exports, South Africa had not received a favourable response from Indonesia. South Africa therefore requested that Indonesia lift these unjustified and discriminating measures.
Chile, Korea and Chinese Taipei also shared China's concerns and hoped that the problem would soon be resolved. Chile reported that it had obtained a bilateral meeting with Indonesia after providing all information required on its fruit exports.
Indonesia noted that this issue was in the process of being resolved bilaterally with China. A meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture of Indonesia had taken place on 22 May 2013 and the two countries had agreed to complete an extendable protocol of import and export inspection and quarantine requirements for agricultural and food products. Indonesia explained that its measures had been adopted to ensure consumer safety, as in the past, exotic quarantine pests were intercepted in potatoes imported from one of the Members who had now raised a concern against Indonesia. Indonesia also noted that the port of Jakarta would be re-opened as soon as the port infrastructure and the inspection facilities for quarantine and customs agencies were ready.

In October 2013, China noted that since December 2011, Indonesia's Department of Agriculture had issued successive ministerial orders (G/SPS/N/IDN/48, G/SPS/N/IDN/49, G/SPS/N/IDN/53, G/SPS/N/IDN/54) amending the inspection and quarantine requirements for imported fresh fruits and vegetables. China asserted that these orders, requiring accreditation of control systems, limiting the number of import licences, requiring that exports come from zones free from fruit fly, and limiting the point of entry to specific ports excluding Jakarta's main port Tanjung Priok, seriously affected its fruit and vegetable exports. The two countries had traded for years on the basis of established inspection and supervision systems, and Indonesia had never informed China about any pest- or food safety- related problems. China had proposed a mutual recognition agreement on the inspection and quarantine of fruits and vegetables to Indonesia on 25 April 2013, and urged Indonesia to study it as soon as possible. China also requested Indonesia to remove quota limitations on Chinese fruits and vegetables, and to provide scientific justification for its measures.
Chile noted that it had engaged in bilateral negotiations with Indonesia, and hoped that this issue would be resolved before the next meeting of the Committee.
The European Union shared the concerns raised by China, noting that trade in certain horticultural products continued to be unnecessarily hampered because of the closure of several entry points, including Tanjung Priok. The opening of that port to some countries based on receipt of information on their food safety and plant health conditions, but not to others, appeared discriminatory. The European Union had provided all the requested information on the EU food safety and plant protection systems as requested, but Indonesia continued to maintain the entry restriction.
Indonesia recalled several pest outbreaks it had suffered in the past, including papaya infestation by Paracoccus sp. and spread of Globodera rostochiensis in potato, and noted that in addition to pests, some imported fresh produce posed a food safety threat, exceeding permitted mycotoxin and chemical limits. Indonesia's quarantine facilities were limited and the workload too great for plant quarantine officers. Tanjung Priok port was undergoing necessary facility improvements in an effort to mitigate SPS risks. This risk mitigation, Indonesia stressed, was carried out in accordance with Article 6 of the SPS Agreement. Indonesia was not closing the port completely, but opening it under certain conditions. It had also amended its horticultural and animal product regulations, eliminating certain verification requirements in the country of origin, and requiring that registered importers should import at least 80% of the volume of their import permit to maintain their status as a registered importer.

In July 2014, Chile expressed its concern at the lack of access for its fruit exports through the Jakarta port, due to Resolutions No. 42 and No. 43 which had been issued by Indonesia's Ministry of Agriculture, effective June 2012. Chile had provided Indonesia with all the necessary documentation establishing its fruit fly-free status, and had requested that this be formally recognized. To date, Chile had not been recognized as free of fruit flies by Indonesia, although other countries had been granted that status. The Indonesian authorities had not yet carried out a technical visit to Chilean sites, despite the invitation. Chile noted that Indonesia's measure was not in keeping with the objective of the SPS Agreement and further urged Indonesia to find a solution to its concern as soon as possible.
Korea reiterated Chile's concern, indicating that it had experienced difficulties in exporting its fresh agricultural produce to Indonesia since the port closure. Several bilateral discussions had been held and the requested information provided to the Indonesian government, including the results of a fruit flies survey. Korea urged Indonesia to resolve this issue as soon as possible. Japan further supported this concern and requested Indonesia to find a solution to this issue.
Indonesia recalled the closure of Jakarta port had been undertaken to protect consumers from the threat of new pests and diseases identified in fresh produce imported through the port. Indonesia was free from Medfly and precautionary actions were being taken in particular on products from countries which had Medfly. The Indonesian Quarantine Agency (IQA) had information that Medfly had been found in the Valparaiso region in Chile, in a grape plantation area in 2013. Owing to the Medfly's ability to fly long distances, IQA was concerned that products from Chile could adversely affect various fruit and vegetable plantations in Indonesia. Given its limited capacity to control the potential spread of Medfly, Indonesia could only approve products from countries with Medfly-free status or subject to treatments in compliance with the IPPC guidance.
Chile stressed that as of 2013, IPPC provided for the retention of the recognition of a country's pest-free status when an outbreak was quickly detected and controlled. Chile again invited Indonesia's technical experts to visit Chile to verify the swift management and eradication of these outbreaks. Furthermore, Chile had not received any warning prior to restrictions being imposed on its fruit exports. Chile reiterated its commitment to bilateral efforts to resolve this trade concern.

In March 2015, Chile recalled its concern regarding the loss of access for its fruit exports through the Jakarta port, due to resolutions No. 42 and 43 issued by Indonesia's Ministry of Agriculture in June 2012. Chile had provided Indonesia with all the necessary documentation establishing its fruit fly-free status, and had invited Indonesian authorities to conduct a technical visit to Chile, which had not yet occurred. To date, Chile had not been recognized as free of fruit flies by Indonesia, although Chile had fulfilled the international standards set by IPPC. Chile noted that Indonesia's measure was not in line with the objectives of the SPS Agreement and further urged Indonesia to announce a solution at the next Committee meeting.
Chinese Taipei shared Chile's concerns with regard to Indonesia's import licensing regime for agricultural products. Chinese Taipei noted that the regime was complex, burdensome and time consuming, and was not in line with the national treatment obligation. Chinese Taipei requested that Indonesia bring its import procedures into conformity with all relevant WTO agreements.
Indonesia explained that the measures had been taken to effectively control pest outbreaks and not to ban the importation of fruits and vegetables through Tanjung Priok port. Indonesia clarified that resolutions No. 42 and 43 issued by its Ministry of Agriculture were in accordance with Article 6 of the SPS Agreement. Indonesia confirmed the receipt of additional documents provided by Chile and informed Chile that the documents were currently being reviewed by the relevant authority.