The beginning of 2019 ushered in a new era for the Indonesia–Australia Partnership on Food Security in the Red Meat and Cattle Sector.
The Partnership’s seventh meeting—held in Melbourne, Australia during late February 2019—was the first official gathering to be convened in the second phase of this vital collaboration between Indonesia and Australia.
It provided a unique opportunity to reflect on the key findings of the midterm review of the Partnership, which was conducted to assess the effectiveness of the program’s implementation phase from 2014 to 2018.
The importance of the meeting attracted scores of Indonesian and Australian government representatives, industry stakeholders and observers, academics, journalists and senior bureaucrats from both countries.
In opening the meeting, co-chairs Mr Wisnu Wijaya Soedibjo of Indonesia and Ms Louise van Meurs of Australia, highlighted the need to balance the Partnership’s previous achievements with its future objectives.
Mr Soedibjo, the Deputy Chairman for Investment Cooperation of the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board, conveyed his appreciation of the mutually beneficial outcomes produced by the Partnership.
Key initiatives acknowledged by Mr Soedibjo included funding the Indonesia-Australia Commercial Cattle Breeding Program, with $9 million allocated for 2016-2021 to determine commercially viable and sustainable cattle breeding models in Indonesia.
The Partnership has also helped train 252 Indonesians in a range of short courses that develop individuals’ skills and build industry capacity. Meanwhile, it has supported animal welfare through the East Kalimantan Breeder Support Program.
“For the past five years, the Partnership has been very successful in achieving project outcomes, enhancing bilateral dialogue, improving information exchange, and transferring skills and knowledge across the red meat and cattle sector,” Mr Soedibjo said.
“It has played an active role in assisting trade liberalisation and contributed to greater collaboration between our two countries.
“This meeting is a very important milestone to discuss the Partnership’s future direction for the next five years.”
Ms. Louise van Meurs, who is First Assistant Secretary for the Trade and Market Access Division of Australia’s Department of Agriculture, reiterated Mr Soedibjo’s remarks.
She emphasised the anticipated signing and ratification of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) as a major step forward in relations between the two countries.
“The trade and investment outcomes from the implementation of IA-CEPA will be significant for the Indonesian and Australian red meat and cattle sector,” Ms. Louise van Meurs said.
Upon ratification, IA-CEPA will provide opportunities for red meat and cattle producers in Indonesia and Australia. It will see reductions in tariffs, and mechanisms to support the removal of non-tariff barriers, along with increases in capacity building, skills development and labour exchange across the agriculture sector.
The Partnership’s strategic priorities are to add value to the agreement by improving the business and investment climate, supporting the commercial sector, and promoting two-way investment.
To advance these priorities, two key collaborative events were held in the days prior to the main session of the Partnership’s seventh meeting.
On 20 February 2019, Meat and Livestock Australia conducted a joint industry workshop, where particular consideration was given to the Indonesia and Australia Joint Industry Action Plan.
The plan has identified and prioritised actions to achieve a competitive, productive and sustainable red meat and cattle sector, and the work to develop these actions has fostered strong relationships between Indonesian and Australian industry groups.
Participants in the joint industry workshop applauded the four key pillars of the Joint Industry Action Plan: policy stability, supply chain efficiency, informed consumers, and a capable workforce.
They recommended that the Partnership’s communications be strengthened as a key priority to ensure maximum awareness of the benefits, investments and achievements of the Partnership.
On 21 February 2019, the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) conducted an investment roundtable facilitated by Dr Risti Permani, Senior Lecturer in Agribusiness at Deakin University.
During the roundtable, delegates shared the ongoing experiences of Australian companies investing in Indonesia, and discussed the potential of future investment platforms for Indonesia’s red meat and cattle sector.
These two interactive and highly constructive events made a major contribution to establishing broad agreement on the future direction of the Partnership.
By the conclusion of the seventh meeting, delegates were united in the view that the Partnership should focus on improving the red meat and cattle supply chain across Indonesia and Australia through increased two-way investment and enhanced breeding models, transportation, distribution, logistics and processing.
For more information about the Partnership and the official communique of the seventh Partnership meeting, visit redmeatcattlepartnership.org/partnership-meeting
Conducted from December 2018 to January 2019, the midterm review of the Partnership delivered a number of key recommendations covering the program’s governance and management; communications and community engagement; monitoring, evaluation and knowledge management; and potential projects.
Central to the report’s recommendations was a call to improve the governance and management of the Partnership by developing a program design document that could clearly communicate the purpose, objectives, scope and implementation of the Partnership going into the second phase.
Delegates at the seventh Partnership meeting unanimously supported the development of such a document to provide clarity to stakeholders and to set the future strategic direction of the Partnership. There was also consensus that the priorities articulated in the Joint Industry Action Plan should be considered for adoption as part of the program design process.
As a result, a Partnership program design workshop was held in South Tangerang, Indonesia on 12 April 2019.
The workshop comprised five sessions covering the Partnership’s objectives and intended outcomes, measures of success, monitoring and evaluation systems, meeting structures, and implementation arrangements.
Workshop participants broadly supported the Partnership’s goal of joint cooperation between Indonesia and Australia to support food security in the Indonesian red meat and cattle sector, but they also sought to facilitate access to the global supply chain for red meat and cattle products through trade and investment.
The longer-term objectives agreed in the workshop were:
The program design document also provided clearer guidance for Phase 2 implementation, including clearer roles and responsibilities for Partnership stakeholders, more structured and transparent project establishment process as well as better-structured meeting, reporting and implementation schedules.
The program design document was finalised in June 2019, and formally endorsed at the Partnership Co-Chairs meeting on 12 July 2019.