Indonesia plans to allow live cattle imports from Mexico, Brazil and Spain in order to stabilize domestic beef prices, the country's trade minister said on Friday, in a potential setback to Australia which is the country's biggest supplier.
President Joko Widodo has curbed or delayed imports of beef and cattle as well as other food commodities since coming to power in October 2014 in a bid to achieve self sufficiency.
However, the result has often been food shortages, volatile prices and worried investors and Indonesia has begun seeking meat and cattle from different sources, including buffalo meat from India to stabilize rising prices.
"Your prices keep going up and don't come down, that's why we've opened up imports from other sources," Trade Minister Enggar Lukita told reporters, referring to recent discussions with his counterpart Steven Ciobo in Australia.
"Brazil is so far away and yet its are cheaper than Australia's," Lukita said.
A spokesman for Australia's trade ministry did not immediately respond to a written request for comment.
Virtually all of Indonesia's cattle are shipped from Australia in trade that was worth nearly $600 million last year, an industry that Australia's north relies on.
Many regions of Australia's graziers were driven to the brink of bankruptcy during a temporary suspension of Indonesian cattle imports in 2011.
The Indonesian president called off a visit to Australia last week, during which the country's southern neighbor had hoped to ask for greater access to imports of live cattle and other agricultural products.
Australia and Indonesia resumed long-stalled discussions in March following a lengthy diplomatic spat, hoping to secure a trade agreement that is expected to be reached by late 2017.