President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that every country in the world protected their farmers despite anti-protectionist regulations.
"Indeed, there are WTO [World Trade Organization] anti-protectionist rules and in G20 meetings we also always say we are anti-protectionist. But in reality, all countries take sides one way or another. In the case of agriculture, they side with the farmers. Therefore, conflicts, clashes or disputes can happen," he said in Budapest on Thursday night.
President Yudhoyono made the statement when asked about the dispute with the US over the country's policy to limit imports of horticultural products.
A lot of distortions had taken place over food commodities, he said, adding that in the current situation, it was traders that would benefit while farmers suffered.
In view of that, he said that Indonesia had decided to protect its own farmers. "Indonesia supports free trade but it likes fair trade more," he said.
Regarding the dispute, Yudhoyono said he hoped it could be settled at a bilateral level or through a WTO forum. "We hope we can find the best solution through bilateral or WTO forums," he said.
The Indonesian government has decided to allow the importation of only seven horticultural commodities, leaving around 13 other commodities banned from entering the country, according to media reports.
The policy is not aimed at particular countries; it applies to all.
Delegations from the US and Indonesian trade ministries met in Jakarta last month to discuss the issue but no agreement was reached. Negotiations are due to continue this month.