Thursday, October 31, 2013

Animal cruelty - or trade war?

So it is happening again. In the middle East this time.

But let's first rewind the tape. Sometime in 2011 an amateur video was broadcast widely in Australia. It was about an "inhumane" practice of slaughtering cows in Indonesian abattoirs. Animal rights activists and Green Party jumped in, condemning Indonesian farmers and called for an action from Aussie government. And action they got. The government of Australia imposed a ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia.

Indonesia, on the other hand, took offence. The government said, fine, let's just then go ahead with our long time fetishism for self sufficiency in beef (I made up the sentence, but it was something to that effect, really). So, Indonesia cut import quota for live cattle from Australia by 30% in 2012 and another 30% in 2013. Not only battle, Indonesia also cut the import of beef, 60% in 2012 and 6% in 2013.

What's the consequence? Australian cattle growers were hurt badly, especially those in Darwin. They produce brahmin cows mostly for export to Indonesia. According to a friend who is expert in this thing, Australians don't really like brahmin beef. So export ban gave a big punch to the business. I heard they even had to kill many cows for nothing.

As for Indonesian side, we heard the self sufficiency rhetorics all over again. Rice, maize, soybean, sugar. And now beef. But then we also saw how the government panicked during the fasting month of 2013. Beef was in short supply, and the Eid day (the day when people eat a lot of beef, and I mean really a lot) was coming. The president was reportedly furious of the whole thing. Prices were going up very quickly. What happened next? Minister of Trade and Minister of Agriculture called imports from Australia. "Urgently wants to buy 25,000 extra cattle and 3,000 tons of frozen beef from Australia", so the news read.

Bottomline? Animal cruelty issue and trade war can be very mingled. Often time it ends up in a lose-lose situation for both trade parties involved.

So, this morning I heard this new news. This time it involves Australian sheep in Jordan.

Please read it yourself. I gotta go get my burger.