Indonesia Looks to Import Cattle, Soy From South Africa

The government has unveiled a plan to import 50,000 cattle and 300,000 tonnes of soy from South Africa to expand bilateral trade in the agricultural sector.
“This is our attempt to deal with the high demand for both commodities,” Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan wrote in a post on his Instagram account on Wednesday, after his meeting with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
On his working trip to Johannesburg, South Africa, on Tuesday, Luhut expressed his expectation that the import deal could be finalized ahead of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s visit to the 15th BRICS Summit, which will be held from Aug. 22 to 24. BRICS is an acronym denoting the forum’s members: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
In Johannesburg, Luhut discussed opportunities for joint ventures in trade, investment and agriculture with President Ramaphosa and members of South Africa’s Cabinet. The meeting also included Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel, African National Congress (ANC) Economic Transformation Committee chairman Mmamoloko Kubayi as well as Electricity Minister Ramokgopa.
“Hopefully the cattle and soy import plan will lead to an agreement,” Luhut said.
The deal was a boon for both countries, said Luhut, who claimed that imports of both commodities were “absolutely necessary” as domestic beef prices were continuing to rise and the country’s demand for soybeans needed to be met at 3 million tonnes.
According to the Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data, Indonesia imported 2.32 million tonnes of soybeans for US$1.63 billion in 2022. The quantity decreased 6.63 percent from the preceding year, when the country imported 2.49 million tonnes of soybeans valued at $1.48 billion.
Despite being an agricultural country, Indonesia has only 142,000 hectares of soy plantations, a fraction of its 10 million hectares of rice paddies. National soy production has declined over the past five years, in line with shrinking areas of soy cultivation nationwide. In 2021, just 200,000 tonnes of the commodity were produced, slightly above the 2020 output, with an average productivity of 1.56 tonnes per hectare.
Meanwhile, 211,430 tonnes of beef were imported in 2021, worth some $785.15 million. From 2017 to 2021, most of Indonesia’s cattle imports came from Australia, but last year, India surpassed Australia as the largest beef exporter to Indonesia.
Indonesia’s total imports in May amounted to $21.28 billion, the highest in the past five months, according to BPS data. Meanwhile, exports in the same month were recorded at $21.72 billion. The import value jumped 38.65 percent from the previous month and was up 14.35 percent from May of last year.

July 13, 2023, The Jakarta Post