US trade rep urges Indonesia to lift beef import ban
US calls for Indonesia to lift its import ban on some American beef products.
SINGAPORE - The US trade representative on Thursday called for Indonesia to lift its import ban on some American beef products, saying there was "no evidence" that a Californian mad cow case had tainted food markets.
Speaking at a news conference in Singapore, Ron Kirk said there was "no reason to fear" an international spread of the disease after an infected cow was discovered in California on Monday.
"There's been no evidence (in) this one reported instance that any contaminated product has entered our food chain or any international food chain," Kirk said.
"There is no reason, from my understanding of the analysis... for any consumer to be concerned about the consumption of US beef," he added.
"Thus we would expect that Indonesia would quickly reopen its market for its consumers for US beef products."
Indonesia's deputy agriculture minister Rusman Heriawan told AFP earlier on Thursday that it was halting imports of bone meal, innards and boned meat from the US after Washington reported its first case of mad cow disease in six years.
However, boneless meat will still be allowed into Indonesia, Heriawan said, adding that he did not know how long the suspension would remain in effect for.
Last year Indonesia imported 100,000 tonnes of beef from around the world, local media reported. The United States exported nearly 18,000 tonnes of beef products to Indonesia last year, according to figures from the US Meat Export Federation.
Indonesia's selective ban on US beef products comes a day after two major South Korean retailers Lotte Mart and Home Plus said they would suspend sales of American beef as well.
But Home Plus' ban lasted nine hours, with the discount chain -- which is a local unit of Britain's Tesco -- announcing Wednesday night that it had resumed sales of US beef.
The European Union on Wednesday also gave US beef a vote of confidence, saying that it had no plans to impose restrictions on imports.