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Jakarta Post

It’s official: Indonesia halts live animal imports from China until virus ‘subsides’

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, February 14, 2020   /   06:35 pm
It’s official: Indonesia halts live animal imports from China until virus ‘subsides’ Jakarta asserted last week that only live animals were subject to the import ban, while other goods shipped in from China would continue as usual.  (Bloomberg/File)

Indonesia has officially halted imports of live animals from China as the Trade Ministry issued a regulation stipulating the temporary ban, another in a series of government efforts to prevent the coronavirus from spreading to the country.

Trade Ministerial Regulation No. 10/2020 stipulates a temporary import ban on at least 53 animals, ranging from reptiles and mammals to poultry, which has been in force since Feb. 7.

“In response to the outbreak [...] the Indonesian government has banned the import of live animals originating from China or transiting in China into Indonesia’s territory,” Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto said in a statement on Thursday as quoted by Antara.

“The restriction is only temporary until the coronavirus epidemic subsides,” he said. 

Among those animals banned from imports are horses, donkeys, mules and hinnies, pigs, sheep, goats, oxen, buffaloes and other types of bovines. Reptiles, including snakes and turtles, are also on the contraband list.

For poultry, the government has banned imports of chickens of the Gallus domesticus species, ducks and geese, turkeys and guinea fowls. Primates, whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions are also banned. 

The temporary ban also outlaws animals in traveling circus, traveling menageries, traveling theaters and amusement park animals. 

Importers are obliged to send back the animals or exterminate them if they arrive at Indonesian ports after the regulation takes effect, Agus said, adding that the cost for the procedure would be incurred by the importers.

Read also: Indonesia to ‘stand together with China’ in battle against COVID-19, Jokowi tells Xi

Those who fail to take responsibility for sending back the animals or exterminating them within the span of 10 days will receive sanctions, according to the regulation. 

The ministerial regulation is drafted in accordance with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which stipulates that each WTO member country may apply its own technical regulations for the welfare of consumers. 

Jakarta asserted last week that only live animals were subject to the import ban, while other goods shipped in from China would continue as usual. 

Beijing has previously expressed concerns over the import ban, with Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Xiao Qian saying on Feb. 4 that there had yet to be any evidence suggesting the coronavirus could spread via imported goods. He was also worried it could affect trade relations between the two countries. 

Secretary to the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister Susiwijono Moegiarso said the import ban would not disrupt the economy significantly as it was unlikely to affect Indonesia’s trade balance with China.

“Last year, the import [of live animals from China] amounted only to an estimated US$231,000 out of the total $170 million [of trade],” she said on Wednesday as quoted by tempo.co.

Susiwijono said the ban was necessary to protect citizens at home from the virus outbreak as live animals were said to be able to act as carriers of the virus — which is believed to have originated from a market selling wild animals in the Chinese city of Wuhan. 

As of Friday, the death toll from the coronavirus had surpassed 1,300 globally with more than 64,000 confirmed cases worldwide, Reuters reported. Indonesia has recorded no confirmed cases of coronavirus so far. (ydp)