More than 20 members of Congress, including 4th District Rep. Doc Hastings, are asking Indonesia to rescind impending regulations that would severely restrict access by Washington growers to the state’s fifth largest apple export market.
The regulations, scheduled to take effect late this month, impose licensing requirements on importers, labeling rules and review of export paperwork by third-party inspectors before fruit is shipped to Indonesia.
In a news release Wednesday, Hastings, a Republican from Pasco, described the requirements as unfair, saying they pose a competitive disadvantage for U.S. growers.
“Indonesia is a top market for Washington state apples, pears and cherries and these regulations could severely limit the ability for our growers to continue to ship to this important market with no scientific basis,” Hastings said in the release.
Indonesia is the fifth largest Washington apple export market, purchasing 2.5 million boxes during the 2010-11 marketing season.
The members of Congress released a letter about their concerns sent to the Indonesian trade and agriculture ministers. The letter requests Indonesia reconsider the regulations. All sitting members of Washington’s delegation signed the letter.
Mark Powers, vice president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, said Indonesian officials have said the regulations are an effort to combat smuggling.
Powers said the rules apply across the field of products that are imported to Indonesia, not just fruits and vegetables, and appear to be an effort to limit competition for domestic products. All countries seeking to export to Indonesia would be subject to the new rules.
“There appears to be a broader policy at play here,” Powers said. “One of our questions is, is there a policy change in Indonesia to be more protectionist? If you look at the regulations that have come out, that appears to be the case.”
The council, based in Yakima, represents the Northwest tree fruit industry on trade and regulatory issues.