New Zealand and the US have welcomed the decision by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to reject Indonesia’s appeal over its restrictions on imports of food and animal products.

The countries were co-complainants to the WTO in 2013 after failing to persuade Indonesia to re-think its 2011 decision to restrict the importing of certain food products, such as beef and poultry.

The WTO ruled against Indonesia’s restrictions last December and has now upheld that decision by kicking out Indonesia’s appeal.

David Parker, New Zealand’s minister for trade and export growth, said: “This decision from the WTO’s highest dispute settlement body is an important result for our agricultural exporters and should pave the way to grow New Zealand exports to the Indonesian market.”

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said: “This is a significant win for US farmers and ranchers.

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“Given Indonesia’s market size and US competitiveness, we should be selling many more agricultural products to Indonesian consumers.”

Indonesia had argued that its rules were based on health concerns and halal food standards, or aimed to deal with temporary surpluses in the domestic market. 

Other products the import ban covered included apples, grapes, potatoes, onions and dried fruit.

New Zealand said the restrictions meant an 80% drop in the nation’s exports to Indonesia of beef and horticultural products. Prior to the ban, Indonesia was New Zealand’s second-largest market for beef. 

Indonesia appealed the original WTO decision in February this year and the appeal was declined in a ruling dated 12 October.

New Zealand trade minister Parker said the restrictions “are estimated to have now cost the New Zealand beef sector close to a billion dollars of lost exports into an important market”.

He added: “I look forward to working with my Indonesian counterpart over the coming months to finalise resolution of this long-standing trade issue.”