Reps. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Dave Reichert (R-WA) applaud the United States Trade Representative (USTR) for requesting consultations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) with Indonesia over regulations impacting the export of fresh fruit and vegetables from the U.S. to Indonesia. This request represents the first stage in the formal World Trade Organization dispute resolution process.
"I commend USTR for pursuing dispute settlement within the WTO over Indonesia's new regulations that have placed Central Washington growers on an uneven playing field with their Indonesian competitors," said Congressman Doc Hastings. "Washington state is the most trade-dependent state in the nation, and it is essential to our economy that we hold our trading partners accountable for fair trade policies."
"The Indonesian measures that are the subject of the USTR consultation request are unfair, lack a basis in science, and are seriously hurting growers in Washington and other states," said McDermott. "I am pleased that USTR will formally be calling Indonesia to account for them. I hope these consultations are successful at resolving the problems. But if they are not, USTR should be resolute in continuing onto the next steps in the dispute settlement process."
"I appreciate the continued engagement of the U.S. Trade Representative in requesting consultations on an issue vital to American growers," said Reichert. "Jobs here at home depend on the ability to sell to critical markets like Indonesia. Regulations that serve only to restrict such access must be addressed."
Indonesia has consistently been one of the top five importers of Washington state apples. In 2010, the country was a $57 million market for Pacific Northwest apples, pears and cherries.
The regulations at issue were implemented by the Indonesian government last year and impose burdensome licensing requirements for all imported fresh fruit and vegetables, serving as an effective barrier to U.S. exports.
In August, McDermott, Hastings, and Reichert led a bipartisan group of 15 Members of the House of Representatives in writing a letter to the Indonesian Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Trade requesting that they reconsider these regulations that would make it more difficult to export U.S. fresh fruits and vegetables to this important market. Previously, Hastings and Reichert led a group of 21 lawmakers in June encouraging USTR to use all available resources to encourage Indonesia to rescind these regulations and a proposed closure of the Port of Jakarta to horticultural products. Reps. McDermott and Burton, co-chairs of the Congressional Indonesia Caucus, also submitted a letter to Indonesian authorities in June urging quick resolution of the issues.