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Indonesian Ban on Belgian Dairy Products Gains Momentum

Leading Indonesian political and media outlets have promoted the growing possibility of a ban on all Belgian milk and dairy products entering Indonesia, following Belgian Minister Zakia Khattabi’s decision to ban Indonesian palm oil biofuels from entering Belgium.

The official Indonesian Parliament website carries the comments of Dr. Herman Khaeron, Member of the International Trade Committee, who has publicly recommended a ban on Belgian dairy products. Dr Khaeron has also served as Deputy Chairman of the Agriculture Committee in the Parliament.

MP Dr Khaeron stated that Belgium’s decision was “an act of trade protectionism” which “will directly harm palm oil small farmers across Indonesia. […] Indonesia should provide a strong response. The Belgian Government has decided to start a trade war and this hostile act has consequences.”

The Indonesian media Rakyat Merdeka has also highlighted Dr Khaeron’s call for an import ban, which would cost Belgian farmers over €90m of lost revenue annually.

The ball is in the court of Minister Khattabi: will she re-think her decision on palm oil, or will she press ahead and risk tens of millions of Euros in damage to her own country’s farmers?

Full Statement from Dr.  Herman Khaeron, Member of International Trade Committee, Indonesian Parliament:

The Belgian Government has announced a ban on palm oil biofuels starting in 2022. This will directly harm palm oil small farmers across Indonesia. This is an act of trade protectionism by Belgium. Indonesia should provide a strong response to this aggressive act.

Indonesia should consider a reciprocal ban on Belgian exports, for example milk and dairy products produced by Belgian farmers, also starting in 2022. The Belgian Government has decided to start a trade war and this hostile act has consequences in our international trading system.

Indonesian palm oil is the most sustainable vegetable oil in the world today. It provides income, security, renewable energy and improved life chances for millions of small farmers throughout Indonesia. It is highly regrettable that the Belgian Government has decided to choose conflict instead of cooperation.”

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